Thursday, October 29, 2009

Insurance is Officially Back Up

And not a fucking moment too soon. I have $2500 worth of pods that should have been in the mail last week.

The delay means I'll be on shots from tonight until at least tomorrow when/if the shipment arrives. They've been holding it since Monday, likely waiting for the fucking payment to process. Not looking forward to a whole weekend of shots, so let's hope the shipment arrives tomorrow, shall we?

Two Girls -UPDATED

A first pass at video creation with Windows Movie Maker. Cinematic art it ain't, but it looks like if you can navigate PowerPoint 7, you can navigate Movie Maker. This is a pretty hack job I did in a few hours. I'll be interested to see how I can improve things as I figure out what the hell I'm doing. Some of the transitions are still running a little fast.

Video is based on the unpublished short, Two Girls (I wanted to start with a story I didn't mind messing up). View below or go directly to my my YouTube channel.

Website address at the end is still, obviously, not live, but I've started adding it to things in anticipation of the day.

I'm still not sure if giving me these sorts of tools is a good idea or not...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First, they come for...

"I was Jewish. There was no doubt in my mind (what would happen). I left in 34. Hilter had taken over in 33. A girl... and a physicist... and Jewish. Well, that's a combination that had no chance! (laughs) That was clear."

-Hilde Levi, refugee physicist from Nazi Germany (from here)

The Power of Books

(more here)

Monday, October 26, 2009


You know you want to check out the rest....

Exquisite photos. I may be ordering some prints (now that I may no longer be dirt desperate uninsured poor!) if I can figure out how.

Light At the End of the Tunnel

There appears to be some light at the end of the health insurance tunnel, which is good cause today was the day I was going to drop $1154 on health care premiums through Sinclair.

I was able to place my pod order without a problem (!! really !!), and tho our account still shows up as "inactive," I'm told that doctors are taking and processing the claims, which will be back up to date by the time anything we do this week actually gets processed, so at least we don't have to pay out of pocket at the hospital or get turned away.

Still paying out of pocket for prescriptions, but that wasn't my urgent concern. The terror and sleepless nights were in trying to figure out how to come up with $1100 for my pump supplies and $3,000 for J's twice-yearly post-cancer scan (which he was due to have last week).

We are both a lot less hysterical now, and should hopefully be sleeping a lot better. Man, what a nightmare. It's not quite over, but it's a fuck of a lot less urgent. It's like the difference between wondering how you'll survive and just wondering how many nights a week you'll be eating ramen.

Oh, there was some other good news today, too.


Women in the Fight

Images of Women in WWII.

(via Elizabeth Bear)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Autumn Feast!

Full set here. Here's what we cooked:

Ranch Style Chicken

Sweet-Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash Wedges
Spicy Pumpkin Soup

Maple syrup substitute for the pumpkin soup and acorn squash consisted of Splenda mixed with no-carb maple "syrup" substitute. Honey called for in the ranch style chicken was substituted with no-carb maple "syrup" (and turned out very well!).

Saturday, October 24, 2009


So, I'm, like, a writer fighting to get my first book into stores. At least into Kindles? Published would be great. It's been languishing, but hopefully that'll change soonish.

Anyway, I'm also an introvert. I write books. I don't market them. I'm an introvert by nature... it's one of the reasons I became a writer. One of the toughest things for introverted writers to negotiate has always been the marketing of their books, and with the rise of ever more "social" and viral ways to market books, the landscape has gotten tougher to manage. Most of the time, I feel little overwhelmed.

I'm often caught in this weird place where people tell me I share too much, or too little, or don't engage enough, or engage too much. And you know, all I want to do is write. I can write here or plunk away in cool silence in this big 1890s house, but at some point, if you want anybody to read anything you write, you need to crawl out of the house and back into the world.

Booklife came to me at just the right time. I'd sold a book, had it get caught in limbo, and was happily cocooning in my real life. Trouble is there are two big parts to The Writing Life. There's the writing, and there's the marketing. There's the interacting with the world, and there's creating worlds. Today, it often feels like I can do one or the other but not both at once. And... well, let's say that interacting with the world makes me tired. I'm in marketing at the day job, and that means people and politics and social media all day. It's the last thing I want to do when I come home.

I enjoyed Booklife because I got to see how another writer negotiated the writing vs. marketing portions of life. Because let me tell you - it often feels like they're directly opposing forces. He gives some great strategies on how to move from writing to marketing mode and leverage social media tools. Yes, the tools he talks about may be obsolete soon, but the rules of social media (thus far) are pretty portable across mediums.

For me, it was the right book at the right time. How do you interact with the world without exhausting yourself? How do you withdraw enough that you can be creative but not lose momentum with your social media audience? It's a tough negotiation that I'm right smack in the middle of right now, and seeing how VanderMeer is negotiating his own booklife was... comforting? I want to know it can be done. That I can build a writing career and still have some part of my life that's still mine. I need enough left to create something.

Because I've spent a year being battered around by publishing woes, and I'm far too young and unpublished to become a bitter midlister just yet.

The Irrational Politics of Web 2.0

ME: One of the folks I know is dating one of my exes! And she unfriended me on LJ!

J: Well, yanno, that’s what happens when you start dating someone. You have to unfriend all their exes on the LJ, honey. It's, like, a rule or something.

ME: But!

J: It's a RULE.

ME: But!!!

J: When was the last time you talked to this person?

ME: Well… um. I haven’t been going to cons, really, which is where everyone is… and, um, OK, I don’t comment much on the blogs anymore, and um…. I sort of dropped off the face of the writing earth last year. But!! I do LIKE her!! Now she will NEVER TALK TO ME AGAIN.

J: I think you will be OK.

ME: So I guess I shouldn’t friend her on Facebook?

J: Probably not.

This is the trouble with web 2.0. Sometimes it makes you feel just like you did in high school, and the feelings are just as ridiculously irrational.

Particularly because I’m terribly happy for both of them.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This is Not My Beautiful Life...

I first noticed this phenomenon in the photos of folks I have on my Yahoo IM chat list. More often than not, women with young children would use the photo of their children as their avatar photo. The first couple times, you figure, hey, they're just really proud of their kids. Then I saw my mom use a photo of my neice and nephew as her user pic on Facebook and I thought... huh?

On the one hand, as the author points out, it's almost refreshing to see a focus other than me-me-me on traditionally me-centric social media sites. On the other hand... um? I'm proud of a good many things in my life, and no doubt if I ever have a child, I'll be proud of them too, but why use the photo as a stand in for... me?

There are plenty of photos of folks with their best friends, mothers *with* their kids, fathers with their kids, and of course, whole families together that sit in as user pics. So it's not like this is as huge a trend as the author points out. But it does come up often enough for me to go "hm," too. I haven't seen any fathers use pics of their children as their user photo, for instance. But I may just not be looking, or I don't note them as much when I see them?

I wonder if it's a mix of pride and guilt? Are you more likely to see working mothers using photos of their kids as avatars? I don't buy that it's about creating anonymity, as there are plenty of folks who just use objects/random scenery shots to hide behind. Is it really a flight from aging, like the author suggests? I don't buy into that so much. I'd be interested to find the commonalities and differences among men and women alike (because there must be some guy, somewhere) who use their children's photos for their social media pics.

I'd be interested, for instance, if it's more likely working moms or stay at home moms who do it. Or is there a class distinction? Is it really an age difference? Do over-30s just view the web differently, and shy away from its me-centric nature more than 20-somethings? Or has our culture really shifted... now that we all have less children, we invest more in them... and more of ourselves in them, and carry them close the same way we would anything else we'd invested so much of our youth in?

Children have always been a source of pride. I just can't ever see my grandmother posting a photo of her children as her user pic, if I could ever get her to join FB...

Batten Down the Hatches

I've spent some time tightening up our budget this week, which is rough to say the least. Monday morning I'll be sending J. in to Sinclair community college with a credit card authorization giving UHC $1145 to cover the two of us through J's account since they're no longer honoring my work account.

As noted elsewhere, I can't go more than 60 days without coverage, and tho once this whole debacle is sorted out they'll retroactively cover me for the gap... well, let's just say I don't want any paperwork in exsitence anywhere that says I went more than 60 days without coverage. I have to live my whole life as a t1, and trust me - insurance companies will find every crazy way possible to shunt the most expensive folks from their ranks. And I'm one of them. And tho I could fight them when they pulled out that "no coverage since Sep 1st" letter... it would take 6 months to sort out, and I would be fighting it my whole life. Every time I changed insurance providers or J. or I had a big medical bill, they'd root through our account. We'd never escape it.

So Monday morning we're out $1154. It's an 80/20 plan, so we've started stuffing money toward paying for expenses. He's got an MRI every 6 months that runs $3,000. My drugs, if I drop my pump and get real lean, may "only" run $350 if I'm careful. Add that to regular endo appointments for me and port flushes for him (J.'s a cancer survivor. There's another year of follow-up before he's insurable again outside a major employer-sponsored group plan), and we're looking at about $11-12,000 a year in bare bones medical expenses. You figure we'll need to come up with, what, $2400-3000 of that out of pocket in addition to the $1145.

Hopefully we'll only be out coverage for 3-6 months. So let's say $1500 out of pocket over the next 3 months in addition to the $1145.

That's an extra $500 a month we need to pull from thin air (not counting the $1145, which is going on the credit card I had nearly paid off).

Sorry this has become the "all shitty health insurance, all the time blog," the last couple of weeks, but these issues weigh pretty heavily on me, and getting all the facts and numbers down on paper actually helps me cope and process the whole thing.

I've shaved about $150 from the budget right now by tossing out netflix and severely cutting our "misc./fun" budget from $200 a month to $100 a month (we already live pretty lean. You don't go from having $17,000 in credit card debt to $2,800 in 3 years if you aren't already living lean). We'll be making up the rest by paying a little less toward that fucking credit card bill (did I mention I was just $2,800 and 5 months away from paying it off completely?), and relying on J's new part-time job. I'm also working on hunting down a few freelance gigs. One of the roughest things going on right now is that my student loans have come due this month. That was fine when the credit card was going to be paid off. Now I have to juggle those with the CC payments and medical costs.

We'll make it through this. But it doesn't make me any happier about it. The most frustrating part is that it's totally out of my hands. At least when UHC was only fucking *me* over, I had some control over it. I could spend hours and hours yelling at them and get the issue resolved. Now I'm totally powerless to do anything but pay for a second policy. That's incredibly, brutally frustrating. Because ya'll know me: I'm a fighter. I fight to the end. Being on the passive end of this whole fiasco drives me crazy.

So, I'm doing what I can. Cutting back, paying bills, eating a lot of soup and beanless chili... Recipes to come! Because when it looks like everything is crap, it's good to remember that you can still afford to eat. And with how rough it is out there right now, that's nothing to sniff at.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Happy 80th to Le Guin

Happy 80th birthday, Ursula K. Le Guin.

Here's to many more! (and many more books!)

Monday, October 19, 2009


This was not the movie I wanted to see. See, I wanted somebody to take the opportunity to tell the story about complex, fully developed Native American societies whoopin some Viking ass.

Instead, it's just another cliched ramble about "noble savages" getting saved by The Great White Hope.

It was like watching 10,000 BC... in Saskatchewan.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What Would...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

OmniPod Upgrade: Solo Patch

Slimmer than my current pod... but the big bonus - as you can see on some of the later pictures - is that the default medical adhesive is (WAIT FOR IT!!): hypafix.

Watch the video demo here.

Smart. Smart. Smart. Smart. "Hey, let's make our *default* medical adhesive the one that folks *won't develop a medical adhesive allergy to*!"

Yes. Let's!

These aren't yet for sale (and battling to get insurance to cover them... let's not get into that), but it's fun to see the tech improving for insulin pumps. Looks like there will be a huge cost savings, as the base is replaced every 3 MONTHS instead of every 3 days (the plastic interior is replaced every 3 days with the Solo, but should cost less than replacing the whole mechanism, like you do with the omipod now, every 3 days). Another awesome feature: being able to bolus even without the remote.

And I can get a remote in red!

Love it. Love it. Love it.

I just ordered a demo kit.

Welcome Back to the Ranks of the Uninsured

Last Saturday, I was alerted that UHC had dropped my insurance coverage due to an "administrative" error. I had been completely uninsured since October 1st.

Now, I have dealt with a lot of “administrative” errors at United Healthcare. Every three months, I spend about 6 hours over three days on the phone screaming at customer service reps, their supervisors, rapid resolution managers, *their* supervisors, customer care coordinators, benefit coordinators, and (when you finally reach somebody with any weight in the hierarchy), the actual medical “advisors” who approve and deny my actual claims.

You learn the buzzwords. “Attorney general.” “Lawyer.” “Sue.” “Medical necessity.” “Death.” And, “Gross negligence.”

And in about three days, you get shipped the medical hardware they approved for you a year before.

Yes, I go through this every time I need my medical hardware. But it does get covered. You know, eventually.

Folks who have yet to experience a major medical issue are often ignorant of how insurance companies actually work. They are also largely ignorant of what happens when you get a major illness like any form of cancer, diabetes (including juvenile, the immune disorder that I’ve got),lupus, CFS, or any of the long list of over 30 “uninsurable” medical conditions that – as my shorthand name implies – means that you are completely uninsurable outside a major employer group plan… for life.

Let me say that again:

If you get a chronic illness and/or cancer, any form of cancer, you are TOTALLY UNINSURABLE for at least 24 months. And in the case of certain cancers like leukemia, you are uninsured FOR LIFE outside of an large employer-sponsored plan (so long as you go less than 60 days without coverage. More about that later).

If your employer drops you for any reason – because you’re laid off, because they don’t pay their bill, because of an “administrative” error – you have just 60 days to find major medical coverage through another company, or you will be totally uninsurable for 12-24 months EVEN UNDER AN EMPLOYER SPONSORED PLAN. That’s right: 60 days without coverage and I will have to wait 12-24 months to get insurance covered for the insulin that keeps me breathing. After 60 days, insulin becomes part of me “pre-existing condition” and will not be covered – EVEN UNDER A MAJOR EMPLOYER SPONSORED PLAN – for 12-24 months.

If I bare bones my medical costs, I’m out about $300-$500 a month. Right now, I’m out about $8,000 a year in medical costs with the pump. If I go back to shots and get a cheaper, crappy testing meter (testing strips alone run me $180-$250 a month), I can winnow that down to that $300-$500 range.


That doesn’t include any preventative care. I’d have to drop my 4x yearly endocrinologist visits, gyno care, urgency care visits for antibiotics, etc. That $300-$500 covers the costs of keeping me breathing.

That’s why I include health insurance benefits in my salary negotiations. If I have a comprehensive plan, I can put up with being paid a little bit less.

But when you drop my insurance… you’ve effectively cut my monthly salary by over $500.

And when you drop my insurance… the clock starts ticking.

I have been uninsured for 17 days.

I have just 43 days to get comprehensive coverage, or I become uninsurable EVEN UNDER AN EMPLOYER SPONSORED GROUP PLAN.

I have been here before. When I was diagnosed three years ago, I had very cheap health insurance with a very high deductible. But I was "insured." And I was about to find out just how incredibly "lucky" that was.

What “insurance” means is that I was out ONLY $6,500 out of pocket for my 3 days in the ICU instead of $30,000.

That’s what being “insured” means. It means you get forcibly fucked, but not gang raped.

Over the next few months (again, as an insured person), I was still spending $300 a month out of pocket for medical expenses. I had a $2500 deductible and 80/20 plan. I was shelling out a lot of hard earned cash to stay alive. But hey, we all need to pay to stay alive, right?

And I was INSURED.

Six months after being diagnosed, I was laid off.

COBRA was nearly $400 a month. Rent was $550. Utilities were $200. Unemployment was $328 a week.

You do the math.

I was forced to either cash out my 401(k) or become uninsured completely.

I cashed out my 401(k).

I started living on expired insulin and reused my needles. I saw my endo half as much as recommended. I did the bare minimum I had to to stay alive.

When money ran out, I moved in with friends in Dayton. I lived in their spare bedroom rent free. I continued to live on expired insulin. I had trouble paying for food. I went almost 30 days without insurance.

I signed up with my temp company’s health insurance plan. It was cheap, and nearly worthless. It covered NO pre-existing conditions for 12 months. It was completely useless to pay for any of my diabetes drugs or appointments or any hospital stays I may incur that had anything to do with my illness.

But by signing up for it, it insured I didn’t go more than 60 days without coverage and become totally uninsurable under a “real” insurance plan.

By the time I got employed at my current job, I had over $17,000 in credit card debt. Over half of that was related to medical expenses. The other half was composed primarily of moving, traveling, and grocery expenses.

At my new job, I got day one health insurance coverage. I paid $20 for insulin and nothing for syringes. Co-pays were minimal. Costs were suddenly manageable. I could start living on non-expired insulin again. I had fewer crazy lows and started seeing an endocrinologist again. Life improved remarkably.

When we switched plans to a no-deductible plan, my health insurance costs went down to basically nothing. I now pay just $50 a month for coverage for J. and I.
It sounds too good to be true…

And, of course, that’s because it sometimes... is.

I spent the first 6 months of the new plan arguing with UHC because my account had some kind of “administrative” error that required me to pay the $1,000 deductible out of pocket instead of through the company HRA. Six months this went on. Six months. After six months, they finally “reimbursed” me for the $1,000 out of pocket.

OK. Fine.

Then came the whole fiasco with trying to get my insulin pump approved. It took a year of Insulet fighting with my insurance company before they got approval. Then once they had approval, the paperwork was filed incorrectly. We fought for weeks over that to get Insulet paid. But every three months, UHC found some reason or another not to send my shipment. The shipment they'd APPROVED a year before.

They couldn’t find my paperwork. Or my paperwork was automatically denied because it wasn’t processed correctly. Or there was now an in-network provider for my pump… but no one had the actual phone number of the in-network provider (it took me three days and six hours of screaming and threats to get… a... phone number. I’m serious).

And now… now I’m 12 days from needing my next shipment, and here we go again.

UHC once again dropped coverage. Not just for me, but for everybody at the company. Just dropped it. “Oops.” Just like that.

And just like that, I’m completely uninsured.

I have $186 worth of testing strips that I need to come up with the cash for next week. I have $90 worth of insulin I need to get the week after that.

And I have 43 days to find insurance again. Or J. and I will be turning off our heat completely and living primarily on rice, hot dogs, and expired insulin.

Welcome to America. We have the best healthcare system in the world.

And this is how it works.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Quote of the Day

"In my view a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign... of promise, you keep writing anyway."

-Junot Diaz

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Support of Public Services Health Insurance

Apparently, John Boehner hasn't "met one American" who supports a public health insurance option (you know, like our public postal option, public library option, and public security [police] option). I think our current public services have improved the public good and kept private costs down for the same services, and I believe it will do the same for health insurance.

If you think so too, you can sign the petition here.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

It Occurs to Me...

... that I shared a lot more on "teh Internets" when "everybody" wasn't reading it.


In other news... I got the biggest of my book checks today! Big CC debt will all be paid off on Monday!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Katha Pollitt Moneyshot

"The widespread support for Polanski shows the liberal cultural elite at its preening, fatuous worst. They may make great movies, write great books, and design beautiful things, they may have lots of noble humanitarian ideas and care, in the abstract, about all the right principles: equality under the law, for example. But in this case, they're just the white culture-class counterpart of hip-hop fans who stood by R. Kelly and Chris Brown and of sports fans who automatically support their favorite athletes when they're accused of beating their wives and raping hotel workers.

No wonder Middle America hates them."

Read the rest.