Procrastination (But I Digress)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Substance just can't catch a break

A deeply entrenched bureaucrat dragged me down to court this morning, so I was listening to NPR on the radio there and back. On the way there, I heard a very interesting discussion about the fact that after thousands of studies, there is no empirical support for the concept of homework benefiting students. It was facinating to hear the author support his thesis against a PTA president who espoused the virtue of homework. I've never been a fan of busy work and I certainly never got anything out of homework, but the PTA president steadfastly argued that since more homework would be required at the next level (middle school), the elementary school should assign more to prepare the students. The author said how can that be a justification: Do more of a meaningless thing younger to reinforce doing more meaningless things later. I know that he didn't even make a dent in that PTA president' pysche. Getting rid of homework (busy work) doesn't stand a chance in hell.

On the way back from court I heard a story about a female educator in Afganistan who was killed. The news commentator talked about how educating women was outlawed under the taliban and there was an in depth report exploring how strong the taliban was once again becoming in Afganistan. Then the commentator interviewed their reporter in Afganistan about the woman who had been killed, asking if it was part of the taliban effort to keep women from acquiring an education. The reporter in Afganistan said, no body liked this woman--her idea of educating women was to run a sewing shop in neighborhoods that had no need of tailors. She (the woman educator who was killed) was wildly prejudice against the people in the neighborhood she served. It is more likely that if she was killed by the taliban, it was because her title had to do with female education. Martyr or not, that is the question. I'm guessing we have to go with form here, because the greater issue is just too important. But this gal as a martyr, yuck.

Form over substance was exactly what that bureaurocrat wanted at court too. He's rejected my papers three times and each time was for a more outlandish excuse. I really wanted to scream. But I did it over. I hand delivered the documents and offered to wait for him to complete the paperwork (and to be there to answer the next outlandish thing he could possibly come up with), but he declined and I felt it prudent to pretend to trust him and show emense gratitude that he'd brought all the previous problems (ridiculous and extreme nitpicking) to my attention.

I've been thinking about Vonnegut lately--he has a story about the purpose of someone's life is to be at precisely the right place at the right time for something to occur just right (All form, no substance). Afterwards, nothing that person does matters, because their purpose has been acheived, but up to that point there are a miriad of small events that must happen just so they'll be at the right place at the right time. Was I meant to bump into my bureaurcrat so that I would hear those particular stories on the radio and internalize these thoughts and regurgitate them out in this blog....

Friday, September 22, 2006

Reeses Peanut Butter Cups

I just read Lyle's blog about the self indulgence study which promotes engaging in self indulgence to live a happier life while not promoting "catastrophic" indulgence such as drunk driving and having an affair. As always, my first thought is "what about me?" I don't drink (I don't like the taste) and no affairs with married men have ever been remotely offered me. What would a "catastophic" indulgence look like to me. And then I remembered the package of reeses peanut butter cups that I bought yesterday. Why, why, why would I buy them when I know that they are my siren, my downfall, my "catastophic" indulgence. I'm already failing miserably at keeping up my good habits for weight lose. Ultimately it will be fine--the bag is almost empty now and I know I'm not ever going to buy them again.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

So It Must Run In Our Family

After reading Gretchen's blog and her perils at Saturn, I had realized that ignoring the problem would not make it go away. I knew it was going to be a problem, but that knowledge did nothing to prepare me to deal with the problem. For the past two weeks, Adam and I have been getting urgent messages and letters from Cingular telling us to change our sim cards. They are updating their system and we must change out our sim cards to continue to have service. They say we can do it ourselves, but we should go into their store and they will do it for us free of charge, no obligation necessary. I don't believe them--not for one minute. But I am a college graduate, surely I can stand up to minimum wage peons who work for Cingular Wireless.

First I am just going to go to the kiosk at the mall, but then I read the fine print and you have to go to a Company owned franchise. Fine. There's one on Brand, but there's no parking spots. So the next day I go to the one in Burbank. There's still no parking, but now I've already driven all the way here, so I have to make due in the large parking structure down the street. I get so turned around in the parking structure that when I come out, I'm practically at the front door of the store, so that worked out anyway.

Adam's phone, they can change the sim card no problem, but my cute little compact so easy to fit anywhere flip phone is too old and it must be replaced. NOOOOOOOO, I scream inside, NOOOOOOOOO. Yes, she says. What's free I say, and I'm shown clunky, ugly, open, blue plastic, piece of junk phone. Well I'm not taking that. Then I'm shown a very nice, (not as nice as mine, but ok) flip phone. It's only $179 with a two year plan, she says. Well I'm certainly not paying $179 and I'm really, really not signing a two year plan with a company that I now despise. Can I buy a one month prepaid phone plan and just switch out the phone (which is what I did to get this little beauty). Yes, it's $59.99 and it's this very ugly fat flip phone. I hate that, but I hate the blue plastic monster more, but that one costs money that goes to company I hate. I end up taking the blue plastic monster. I'll show them--revenge, first dig two graves.

Meanwhile, back at the farm--I need new health insurance. My new one year old plan is going up $90 per month for no apparent reason except that I must be a year older now. So I send away an application on line to Kiaser. There's a place to put any medical problems and I don't have any that are listed, but being an attorney I add at the bottom a little thing that my doctor said I'd just have to live with. Inconvenient, sometimes, health threatening, no. I get a call a few days later and they ask me am I being treated for inconvenient little thing, no. Do I have any other health problems and I say, well my feet hurt and my knees used to hurt, does that count. No answer. A month later, I get a letter that says, I have been rejected for health insurance because I identified health problems that were not on my application. WHAT? I was bent out of shape over that one for a while and I wrote a very nasty letter about sore feet not being a medical condition.

Anyway, I'm in the market for new health insurance, so I call the insurance broker. I tell him, that my medical bill for my routine mamogram is way out of wack with the current insurance company and surely there is a better plan out there for someone who goes to the doctor once a year for a mamogram and nothing else. He tells me to look at the explaination of benefits and that it shouldn't be out of wack.

It turns out that the $2,000 bill I got from the hospital, of which I had to pay $500 was only approved for $1,200 and the insurance company paid their part of $700 and the hospital ate the rest. Then I got a bill for 500 something from the "Lab" and the insurance company paid 100 something and my portion was 92 (some deductible thingie). The "lab" ate the rest. Finally I got a bill from the Radiogy Medical Group (who knows what they do) for 345. The insurance company approved 165 and paid 115--telling me that my portion was $50. But Radiology billed me for 230. So I make a few phone calls. Radiology Group tells me that they do not have a contract with my insurance company and so they refuse to accept my insurance company's dissallowance of their full fee. Mind you, there is a big write off, right on their bill where they did accept the write off for my different medical insurer last year. So I call my doctor--how could you send me to a Radiology group that's not covered in full by my insurance. Not me, she says, I don't do nothing with nothing--I just wrote you a prescription. So I call the hospital--how could you send my results to a Radiology group that's not covered in full by my insurance. Then say, we have a contract, that's the only Radiology group we can send anything to--it's not our fault you have bad insurance. So I call someone higher up at the Hospital--when I hand you my insurance card and you say, yes, you'll accept my insurance there's an implied contract that you will only use sub-contractors who will also accept my insurance. They are looking into it. It's a good think I'm a lawyer.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Practice Listening

Hi Sheryl. I was at the gym this morning and Sheryl and I seemed to get into a heated discussion about diets. When I left she seemed perturbed and I was confused. The thing is, we were agreeing with each other, but neither one of us could let the other one have the last word. I even brought the theory of evolution into it--what's that all about? (That's a Sheryl line that I love--"What's that all about?") I think it really started when I told her that I'm not spiritual. When you say that you are not spiritual to someone who is very spiritual, it's hard for them not to take it personally. If you broaden the definition of spiritual (a lot), then I am and since I'm an attorney and I know how to do that, I should have just said yes. Of course, then we would have been having a heated discussion about God instead of diets, so maybe it's all for the best.

So I get home and I drive Adam to school. I asked him how school was, fine. How's everything, fine. Does he need anything, no. Did he finish his homework, yes. At toastmasters, we have this exercise to practice listening. I told Adam I wanted to practice listening and he wasn't helping. Not even a smile. What we need is a common enemy--that's a great thing to bring people closer together. So whoever you are out there, I apologize, but Adam and I are going to rake you over the coals.

I just looked at the title of this blog and said, are you listening to yourself? What's that all about?

It's raining. No I haven't just gone to the car wash to make it rain, but the window washers are cleaning the windows on our building--go figure.

I started my class a few days ago. There's only about nine kids so far and it was pretty easy except that one kid kept falling asleep and only one other kid was answering obvious questions. And there's a kid who kept talking during class to the girl behind him. I really have to nip that in the bud. Last year it got really distracting. I told them they all get A's if they just participate, but that didn't seem to impress them. This crowd doesn't have all pre-law types, so I'm not sure how debates will go over, but we'll see. Third times the charm, so I'm looking forward to an easy term.

My next speech for toastmasters should be a touching story. I don't know any touching stories. What I need to do is broaden my definition of touching story and really think outside the box here. Inspirational is touching. Tragic is touching. Overcoming great odds. No, these are all in the box. The clues are all out there in the universe--I just need to listen. I'm going to have to work on this one for a while. Well for two weeks anyway, because that's when I have to give the speech. [Hey, how about two people who won't let the other have the last word even when they agree with each other because one knows that the other needs to hear something and she should just tell her what she wants to hear, but noooooo, she has to define a thing narrowly, because she knows that the other one probably defines that thing rather narrowly, so she won't. Huh? Spirituality--now that's got touching story possibilities.]

This blogging is somewhere between a bad convoluted essay and a one sided telephone conversation with your best friend. Take it with a grain of salt or chocolate. Chocolate's good with everything. Chocolate cake is good, even when you drop it on the floor. Hey, is "I didn't know there were eggs in the cake" a touching story? That would be way easier than spirituality.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

That Jon Stewart

Brought down the house last night. The door to my sitting room was open, but my sitting room is really far back in the back of the house. So I'm watching Jon Stewart and he's talking about the President's 9/11 speech, how he really didn't say anything, but at least he hired a good celebrity to help him give the speech and Jon's got a picture of Little Richard from the Geico commercials with Bush playing the "real president" and he does a line from the speech and then Little Richard does his line from the commercial. It was so funny--I couldn't stop laughing. I was laughing so loud that Adam on crutches came back to see what I was laughing about and Adrienne and Marisa from the front of the house came back to see what was going on. Adrienne thought I was sobbing. I was laughing so hard I couldn't hear the rest of the bit, I could barely catch my breath. That Jon Stewart.

But you really had to be there. Adam smiled pretty big, but mostly it was laughing at me looking such the fool. Marisa and Adrienne barely smiled and just said, oh, when they saw the joke. It reminded me of when I shared an apartment with Dad. I'd be up late watching Johnny Carson and everytime I laughed, Dad got up to see what was so funny. Back in the day when not everyone had a tv in their bedrooms. It never was funny enough to get up for. You had to be there.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Radical Sabatical

That is the name of a tv show I've passed with the clicker several times and the name has stuck with me. This morning I was musing at how much daydreaming goes on when people drive their cars and why there aren't a lot more accidents, when I started daydreaming what would it be like if I didn't belong to 20 different clubs and have a gazillion things to do all the time. If I really focused on my career, would I get rich? If I stopped going to meetings all the time would I finally finish that cross stich project I just can't get interested in. If I stopped having 60 things to do every single weekend would I go to the library and find that great new author I haven't read yet? Then I almost ran a stop sign. Almost, I stopped. Boy that car behind me was following close. I do that sometimes when I'm mad at the driver in front of me for talking on their phone and not paying attention. I guess you don't need a phone to not pay attention.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bears and Points and Monsters, oh my.

Well I gave the guy walks into a bar speech and it went over well. The evaluator said that I should be a stand up comic, but I'm not quiting my day job. I didn't win best speech, again, but the best speech was really excellant and very funny.

Art told us about his trip to Yosemite. The first night they were woken up by a mouse and spent the whole night searching the cabin to get rid of the mouse. They were exhausted. The second day a squirrel took a big bag of halloween individually wrapped candy, skittles and m&m's off the table right in front of them and took it under their cabin where they couldn't reach it. At the time they thought it was hillarious, but that night all the squirrels in Yosemite valley were under their cabin fighting over the candy. And they heard all the endless ripping, of the squirrels opening all the individually wrapped packages. Then the sugar high kicked in. A second night of no sleep.

Their last night, they were awoken in the middle of the night by a bear going through the trash can outside their cabin. Art says he woke up and in his fright of the bear less than 10 feet from his open window he yanked the curtians shut as though that was going to keep him safe from the bear. Someone screamed and the bear ran away, but then the ranger came and they had to fill out a report. Sleepless in Yosemite.

In other news, I'm trying out weigh watchers. I'm inching back up (literally--at Curves we measure every month and I've gained an inch at every measuring point), so it's time to try something new. I like points a lot better than counting calories, but points feels like I'm rounding up, since I can do calories in my head. That's probably a good thing. My points allowance and the calorie counting that I had used in the past are roughly similar, but in a few weeks, I get extra points for exercise, so hopefully chocolate cake will motivate me to exercise more. Once you reach your goal and keep it for a period of time, they offer you a chance to work as a coach. Public speaking about a topic I'm extremely familiar and gung ho about. That looks promising.

Ris and Caitlyn moved back and filled up our house again and Adam is back at the dreaded High School. He claims that he hates it, but so far it is a general hate of the concept and not any particular class or teacher that he doesn't like. He's taking photography this semester and they are going to use a film camera. I don't get it. With all the advances in digital, why would anyone go back to film. He's also taking ceramics (all art electives) and one of the first projects is a dragon or monster. I still have the dragon that Ris made me, so I've put in my request for a monster.