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Life and Times of an itinerant slacker in Sacramento. Thrills, Spills Galore coming soon. Not to mention lots of opinions.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Actuaries Propose Unsupportable High Health Insurance Rates. . . Again


After an independent examination of its recently proposed fat rate increase for individual health insurance policies in California, AETNA has admitted the facts do not justify its rate increase. In other words, we are asked to believe that AETNA's hundreds of credentialed actuaries committed an honest oversight that, if not found out, would have added millions in undeserved profits to to AETNA's treasury.

This is a repeat performance of what happened at Anthem/Wellpoint.

Now with two similar cases, I must stop beating a round the bush. The question must be asked out loud:

Are these hundreds of health insurance companies' actuaries compulsive liars, or are they consistently incompetent. Or, has the actuarial profession been reduced to something like a dead horse, filthy with the stench of corruption, surrounded by a cloud of buzzing liability lawyers. I can't rationalize how what we are seeing might be the result of acceptable behavior on the part of these companies' actuaries. I am not happy.

Professional ethics (yes, some people still have them) require me to step back and let you decide. Look at the facts and decide for yourself. Expect the results from similar reviews to emerge in the near future. You'll be able to read about them here.

For the record , "I have no opinion,and anyone who says otherwise is itching for a fight.".

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Music Al Fresco meets Sialia Mexicana

We had another day of playing old music at Wade's ranch in San Joaquin County.

This bluebird came to listen while we were playing a Renaissance hymn by Thomas Tallis.

We had played a few pieces by a contemporary friend of Tallis, William Byrd just before this moment. Maybe it was really the Byrd pieces that attracted him.

Fortunately the birds didn't challenge us to a battle of the bands. We wouldn't have had a chance.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I'm so Effing Sorry For Saying I'm sorry for that Effing Oil Spill

Things are getting so sorrowfully absurd, I fall asleep every night haunted by the fear of awakening as a Cockroach.

Rep Joe Barton, America's biggest petroleum whore (according to this article) has apologised.

Joe Barton apologised for his previous apology to a BP executive during BP's testimony to congress in which the executive apologised for releasing the evils of hell into our world (OK, he probably didn't use those exact words). Barton was apologising for the Administrations refusal to accept BP's apology and demand cash instead.

So, if I have this right, this was an apology for an apology for a refusal to accept an apology.

Alas, Barton's work has only just begun. Since he's accepted over $1.4 million from big oil during his 20 year career of political prostitution, I am sure he'll have to explain all this to his greasy fingered pimps in the industry. that conversation will be (deep breath). . .

An apology for an apology for an apology for a refusal to accept an apology. I personally apologise that apologies can't be used to soak up spilled oil.

I must apologise in advance for saying that if this is the best America can do in a time of crisis, we have become an effing sorry excuse for a country.

That' s my story, and if you don't like it, I apologise.

Propositon 8 Trial - is an Attorney Channeling Kafka?

Charles Cooper is the lead attorney defending Proposition 8 (the California "no gay marriage, please") proposition.

I can't say if Cooper is channeling Franz Kafka, but I can tell you he sure isn't channeling Socrates. The way he has run his defense has certainly resulted in theatre of the absurd.

My favorite exchange between Cooper and Judge Walker (thanks to the New Mexico Independent) :

“What testimony in this case supports the proposition?” Walker asked.
“You don’t have to have evidence of this,” Cooper replied.

This whole thing is just too weird for me.

When this whole trial started, I thought the issue might have something to do with the question of can a majority of voters pass a proposition to revoke a right for a minority (gay marriage was legal at the time Proposition 8 was passed by general election).

I like attending and playing at weddings when I can. I don't know a lot of younger folks. In my crowd, everybody straight who is the marrying type is already married. Even when I don't get paid, I always get at least a free lunch. How dare "they" take that away.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Another Great Interactive Map

Forbes Online published this great interactive map showing where Americans moved in 2008.

Click on any county and you'll see red lines to counties where your county's movers ended up,and black lines from where your county's new residents started.

Dane County, WI shows a lot of out migration to the coasts and the southeast, and in migration from all over Wisconsin. These local immigrants may be students.

Sacramento, CA shows out migration to the southeast region, some in migration from other West Coast urban areas, and something going on with Minneapolis.

It's worth noticing that in most cases we are looking at pretty small numbers of people. You can click on a county to see its migration with your chosen county. You can see that 24 people moved from Sacramento to Dane County,and 36 moved from Dane County to Sacramento. Probably not enough to call trend.

Although I have no idea what it means, I say this is a very cool interactive map.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why The World Cup is Awesome

This series of pictures says it all.

Too bad British Goalkeeper Green's full name really isn't Robert Welsey Green. Or perhaps it is.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Angry clowns decry armed robbery by imposters

Angry clowns decry armed robbery by imposters

What else can I say.

What's creepier than a clown? IMPOSTER CLOWNS INVADING CENTRAL AMERICA!!!!!

Imposter clowns have attained a foothold in the horn of Central America. "We must stop this menace now or they'll be in Texas in no time" - Henry Kissinger

I think there's nothing to worry about just yet, because San Salvador's apparently numerous authentic angry clowns are on the case.

However, vigilance in defense of liberty is no vice. Arizona Minutemen have been reported to be secretly waxing their slapsticks after they turn out the lights.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Farmers Market

I started my day at the local Sacramento Farmers Market. What a great way to start the weekend. Everything looked so good I had to share some photos. I never knew how good fruit and vegetables could look.

We are just beginning the peach and plum and pluot season. The market vendors have several varieties in their orchards. We'll have great summer fruits through mid-September,when pears take over.

If I was a more flamboyant soul, maybe I'd buy a huge bouquet of fresh flowers every week. Since my cats would eat them and get sick,not gonna happen.

Tomatoes are still coming form the hothouses, which are really just a few furrows covered with plastic sheeting held up with bows of bent re-bar. i am hoping to see real outdoor tomatoes soon.

Apricots are dwindling, but still out there for those who want them. The peaches and nectarines were too good for me to buy past=peak apricots. Apricots are so "last week".

I have never seen more summer squash varieties than these folks offer. I make a giant ratatouille about once every three weeks in the summer. Note there isn't a zucchini in sight!

Amazingly, we still see winter vegetables in the summer. the fresh small carrots are unbelievably tasty, and readers know how I feel about the cabbage.

This is one of my favorite smaller operations at the market. This family has all sorts of Asian specialty vegetables, from Bitter melon to asparagus bean. They also have the best cherry tomatoes and eggplants you can buy anywhere.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Bon Appetite!

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Beer For Our Times

Okay, really two beers for our times.

Okay, Okay, two 22 ounce high alcohol content beers for our times. Thanks to Lagunitas Brewery, probably the best thing in Petaluma besides the Sofa Kings.

I often end up impulse buying after I fall in love with the label. The actual beers usually vary from a good IPA to browner English style ales. My favorite kind of beer.
Their beers tend to be around 8% alcohol, so I know I've had a beer.

I bought the "Kill Ugly Radio" bottle a few years ago, and I think tonight is its night. I will cherish and display the empty bottle forever, because it is awesome.

The WTF Jobless Recovery Brew gives me something I've needed for a long time; a beer especially for the unemployed.

This turns into the old beer and wine thing. I feel like an anti Californian to say that I like beer better than wine. That's just the way it is. Now that our weather is warming up, beer sounds better and better every day. I have nothing against the wine, it's the snobs. I prefer a good drink without hearing about its virtues, and how it a stacks up against some other wine this other guy and his wife tasted last week in Yountville.

All I can think is, "I am glad you're enjoying this wine we're sharing, I'm glad you enjoyed some wine last week, now shut your pretentious pie hole so we can enjoy this wine today." Really, how hard is that?

The two serious winery owners I know, one with a small operation in Humboldt County and one with a large "high end" place in the Russian River Valley (BTW, take a close look at the picture on the homepage), share any of the wine-snob characteristics. With one exception: whenever they show up, they open a good bottle of wine. That's something I always encourage.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Lunch and Surveillance

We are at the end of artichoke season, nothing but the memories are left.

Memories of great lunches like this one. This was from the short overlap of artichoke and local tomato season. The meat is sliced chicken that I grilled the previous Sunday. I try to fire up the charcoal grill once a week, and I try to throw on enough meat to last the week for DMIL, DW and I. The bread is my weekly home made bread, toasted. Now that the high temperatures have hit the upper 80s or worse, bread will come from the store until October.

It was a very good lunch, and it looked so darn pretty.

I took a close look at a pond near the river this morning. This started out as a little frog under the macro lens, but as close up photography tends to do, the image became a weird Jabba-the-Hut experience. His unblinking eye haunts my every moment.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, June 04, 2010

World War II: Millions Died, But The Posters Were Great

Life magazine has published a great set of World War II propaganda posters. They are worth a look.

What I like about the is collection is the unvarnished angst and terror expressed in almost all the posters. We seem to have lost that willingness to hold no punches, to produce mass media that addresses the naked truths that haunt our dark hours. That may actually be a good thing, I don't know. In any event, the posters made me glad I wasn't living (or probably dying) in Europe then.

This poster reads, "We've beaten them before." I am a sucker for Alexander Nevsky-based propaganda. I guess after 700 years, its your turn to win, finally.

The grimness of a lot of these is sobering.

I was surprised at the variation ins styles. I like the stark simplicity and clarity of this poster.

Even the Museum of Modern Art got into the act with a national contest. This was the winner.

There is a certain 2oth Century Modern Art theme at work here.

Mais, non, ceci n'est pas une pipe (this is not a pipe).

mais sacre bleu, this is the enemy.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Subway Succumbs to Geometic Sense

After years of a viral internet campaign, Subway has finally relented in their bassackwards and wasteful refusal to abide by the global truth that is Euclidian Geometry (and, in this case M. C. Escher's best trick).

Subway has issued a directive to its franchisees that, as of July first 2010, all isosceles triangle shaped cheese slice must be laid on the sandwich so the cheese slices tessellate. In plain English, that means Subway franchises will need to put the cheese on a sandwich so that the entire sandwich will be evenly covered with cheese. provided an image of the order sent by SSA (Subway's Standards Archives?)to all franchises.

The illustrations really capture the idiocy of not tessellating in the first place. Gawker captures the importance of this change: "You will measure your life before and after this moment."

Just for the record, I have eaten at Subway, and I think they all absolutely suck. I had subway with a bunch of jugglers at a festival in Columbia, MO. I had no choice, everybody was ordering and one guy volunteered to drive out and pick everything up. I cannot recall ever eating anything mushier and less flavorful. They even seemed bland and lifeless surrounded by Columbia Missouri. Their sandwiches bring back memories of the school lunchroom, where I pitied kids whose Northern European culture stream compelled their parents to send them to school with bologna sandwiches on Wonder Bread, with no mustard. I pitied da fools.

If you must do chain subs, fortunately there are acceptable submarine sandwich chains around. Togos here in California, and Cousins in Wisconsin.

However, given the choice, I will always pay the couple of bucks extra and get the roast beef sam'wich at Sam's Hofbrau. If you really want to go crazy,you can pop for one of the $8 or $9 meat-and potatoes dinners. the turkey leg and stuffing for $5 is also one of my favorites,but they don't always have it. I always feel young when i go to Sam's, 'cause the average customer age must be near 70.

Be careful not to confuse this with the Sam's Hofbrau is Los Angeles. The LA joint claims to be "The only topless strip club in downtown LA". You've been warned.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it, even though I can't stick to one subject per blog post.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

I Went To College - Today's Bike Ride

In accordance with hangininsac's green policy of recycling old jokes, I can honestly tell you that I went to college today. . . for an arse- resting break in the middle of my bike ride. And to see what was happening (BTW, that's what was once known as ogling co-eds). It always seems I see far more female students than male. Perhaps I just don't notice grubby guys in unwashed jeans. Who Knows.

Anyway, the bike ride was the main event, with a little over14 miles of petal pushing pleasure. You'll notice my route isn't the most direct. I add about 1.5 miles each way to take the route that involves the least traffic-related angst. I cross two major streets, otherwise the ride is nearly traffic-free.

I found this route using Google Map's Biking direction option. I didn't like the route the utility picked, but it was easy to change. These recently introduced biking directions makes one case where I believe Google lives up to it's never-ending hype. I believe these biking directions will ultimately impact urban planning for the better, and probably soon.

The most interesting part of the trip is that I get to cross the Guy West Bridge over the American River to get from the Bike Trail to the campus. The Guy West Bridge is a very cool looking pedestrian bridge and a concrete reminder of what Sacramento could be if it really wanted to be something besides a venue for chain restaurants.

Yeah, I Know. Besides a really nice way to walk across the river, what this bridge illustrates best is Sacramento's unending and embarrassing need to be a "me-too"to San Francisco. Yes, we have a mini Golden Gate Bridge. When Sacramento does something besides foreclose on real estate and open national chain restaurants, it usually tries to imitate San Francisco. Usually pulls it off with the subtlety and of a chimpanzee singing after seeing the opera. Sacramento may have a population well over 2 million, but it's a big small city. When Sacramento finds its own identity, it will have grown up.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Hilarity From Humorless Hacks

The California Protection of Marriage Act (CPOMA) supporters found this conversation on America Speaking Out, a conservative website for angry and cowardly white men to anonymously complain about how everybody else needs to change to improve America. Like most people who broadcast half-baked politically inclined whinging, many are humorless and clueless. Hmmm, white guys obsessed with what's wrong with everybody else.

Read this and have a good laugh.

The thread starts with a posting by a supporter of CPOMA who states his argument that we must protect marriage by criminalizing divorce. The first two responses go along with this mentioning serial divorced Republicans who might sponsor the legislation. Note the screen names attached to the posts; "RepublicansRDumb" and "BiohazardBurrito". At this point, only a completely humor -impaired full-frontal lobeless moron would take this discussion seriously.

That's where jimboton comes in, with his uniquely insightful comment, "How does forcing people to stay married help anyone?".

Just another example of how being a political extremist and hanging around with like minded types (and I use the term "mind" loosely here) makes you stupid and humorless.

Be vigilant, my fellow Americans. Extremism in Defense of Humor is no vice.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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I must enjoy shouting into a vacuum, but I think about getting my act together one of these days. My mom says I am very handsome and intelligent.

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