Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Inflexible FSA's

Just off the phone with the service that administers my employers Healthcare Flexible Spending (FSA) account.

I put a lot of extra money (the max allowed) into that account in 2009. A painful amount of withholding in fact. I knew that we'd have a lot of medical expenses in 2009 that our PPO wouldn't be willing to cover.

Never mind the PPO "approved" docs and medicines were at best, bandaids over the cause and, at worst no help at all.

Never mind that the non PPO covered MD and his treatments worked to identify and treat some gut problems for my wife that would almost certainly led to very serious, even life threatening conditions. Just. Nevermind.

Anyhow, about those prescribed but unreimbursed expenses I submitted to my FSA. Do you think they make it easy? It's not like it's MY money or anything!

I still had ~$1350 worth of unspent FSA dollars from last year. It's a "use it or loose it" setup. No carrying over into the next year. I had submitted well in excess of that reserve but there "problems" with each submission.

Not that they'll actually tell you what the problem is. You have to get on the phone, sit on hold and wait for a customer rep to get around to your line. Then they try to figure it out. Actually the reps have always been very helpful -- once you get to them.

Yeah, I loooove to do that sitting on hold thing. Pleeeeeenty of time for sitting on hold.

Well I made a last ditch effort today. Turns out one claim for almost exactly my remaining balance had the signature truncated in the fax on the receiving end. However, I got that info and had resubmitted the coversheet last December!

So what's the hold up?

The rep today found that it was all good and complete and had been sitting there waiting to be released for over 3 months.

"Gee whiz Sir, why wasn't this $1350 paid out to you in December? I'll get that right out to you."

It wouldn't be because they get to lay claim to unused FSA funds would it? I dunno. I don't know how that works. Maybe I should ask Congress what they'd do if it was Social Security money.

rassin', frassin', crassin'...

Oh by the way, food IS medicine.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Welcome Home MWSS 372

Went up to Pendleton today for homecoming from the 'stan. This is my son's close friend. We've had a close family-family friendship since BC (before kids) and us Dads were in the Nav.

A few pix of the waiting and greeting.

Milling about smartly, waiting for the Company to march over from receiving.

There they are! The crowd goes wild.

"Can you see him? Can you see him? They all look alike!"

Company Halt!

The Chaplain's prayer. "Hurry up Padre!"

Finally!!! "Come on Mom. Quit yer crying."

Winner of the "Best Homecoming Shoes Award." These shoes aren't made for walking but that's just what they'll do --- Later. /heh

Monday, March 29, 2010

Streams in the Desert

A fleeing Taliban, desperate for water, was plodding through the Afghanistan desert when he saw something far off in the distance. Hoping to find water, he hurried toward the object only to find a little old Jewish man at a small stand selling ties. The Taliban asked, "Do you have water?"

The Jewish man replied, "I have no water. Would you like to buy a tie? They are only $10."

The Taliban shouted, "Idiot! I do not need an over-priced tie. I need water! I should kill you, but I must find water first!"

"OK", said the old Jewish man, "it does not matter that you do not want to buy a tie and that you hate me. I will show you that I am bigger than that. If you continue over that sand dune to the east for about two miles, you will find a lovelyrestaurant. It has all the ice cold water you need. Shalom."

Muttering, the Taliban staggered away over the dune.

Several hours later the Taliban staggered back, almost dead and croaked through dry lips,

"Your brother won't let me in the restaurant without a tie!"

2nd Amendment Saturday (belated)

In case you missed the reports, the media is hysterical about a militia group being rounded up over the weekend in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

Lex's blog post on the subject is worth perusing.

I suspect it's going to be tricky sifting fact, from fiction, from tin foil hattery.

In any case, this 2nd Amendment post is a couple days late but perhaps apropos of the weekend's news.

"The militia, sir, is our ultimate safety. We can have no security without it... The great object is, that every man be armed....Everyone who is able may have a gun."
Patrick Henry

Methinks, the problem isn't too many of these militias popping up and creating a stir.

The problem is not enough people involved in the militia.

More involvement in militias would necessarily involve more folks from a broader cross section of society. That would dilute the influence of cultlike thinkers and personalities in militias. The result would be a moderating and mainstreaming of the militia.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Godfather wants to know

A Mafia Godfather finds out that his bookkeeper, Enzo, has cheated him out of 10 million bucks. His bookkeeper is deaf. That was the reason he got the job in the first place. It was assumed that Enzo would hear nothing that he might have to testify about in court.

When the Godfather goes to confront Enzo about his missing $10 million, he takes along his shyster lawyer who knows sign language. The Godfather tells the lawyer, "Ask him where the 10 million bucks is that he embezzled from me."

The lawyer, using sign language, asks Enzo where the money is.

Enzo signs back, "I don't know what you are talking about."

The lawyer tells the Godfather, "He says he doesn't know what you are talking about."

The Godfather pulls out a pistol, puts it to Enzo's temple and says, "Ask him again!"

The lawyer signs to Enzo, "He'll kill you if you don't tell him."

Enzo signs back, "OK. You win! The money is in a brown briefcase, buried behind the shed in my cousin Bruno's backyard in Woodbridge!"

The Godfather asks the lawyer, "What did he say?" The lawyer replies,

"He says you don't have the guts to pull the trigger."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The more things change...

...the more they stay the same.

Got sent a Flickr link by an old friend today. A bunch (100's?) of pix had just posted of the summer camp I went to as a kid. The camp's 50th anniversary is this year and they're setting up a reunion website.

So I picked an album and dug in. 2nd pic in the pile I came to? This one.

Yep. That would be me front and center taking aim. Figure the odds.

Gun nut then.
41 years later -- still a gun nut.
Still can't get enough time on the firing line and yes those other guys were pikers.

Didn't change my clothes all week. Showers? Fie on them!

What showers? We had swim time! Living the dream! Not sure, but Mom might have threatened to burn some when I got home.

I was going into 4th grade. That was the week of the first moon walk. They borrowed a TV and set it up in the chapel so we could watch Neil Armstrong step off the first time.

Looking at some of the pix it strikes me that maybe boys summper camps had a few harder edges they do now.

Just getting out on that greased log to situp and face your challenger was no mean feat. Freshly peeled and slathered with Crisco or lard.


As I write this, a fresh batch of Devil Dogs should be enjoying the traditional all_you_can_eat Warrior's Breakfast up at Camp Pendleton.

Lord willing, the Son&Heir and his platoon successfully wrapped up their trip through the Crucible this morning.

Recruits stepped off 54 hours ago. Freshly minted Marines came back down the hill this morning.

As for the etymology of Ooh-rah, here's a bit of history and perspective from America's 1st Sgt at Castra Praetoria. AARUGHA!!!

If all went well last night I can now say officially that my wife may look harmless, but, she raised a Marine.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Do Over?

Ever have one of those days at work you wish you could get a "do over?"

My older bro' has been in Bolivia since 1970 or so.

This report from my Sis-n-law came in yesterday.
"The bridge engineers cut the old cable today and unfortunately the clamps which were holding the piece of cable over top of the new tower could not hold the weight. At the moment they cut the old cable it bucked and the undulation created made it slip until it went down and left it floating on the river. The new towers are undamaged but please pray that they can hoist the deck back up where it belongs and secure it before the river rises."

Here's the video of the bridge going down...

About 35 people live full time over at the Bible School. The grounds are about 100 acres which includes a farm that's part of the ministry. It also serves as camp/conference ground.

This pic is of the bridge looking over toward the camp/Bible School in better days. Just enough to get a Jeep across (by a couple inches per side /heh).

There's been a couple times a driver got distracted or sloppy and wheel slipped off. Get's exciting.

You should have seen the old foot bridge that was there before this one when I visited in the 70's. BIG gaps in the decking. Man sized gaps. Gordo man sized gaps.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Into the Crucible

And they're off! Into the Crucible

The Son&Heir's Platoon stepped off at zero-dark-thirty today to begin the Crucible; the final test of Marine Basic Training.

You have tested us, O God;
you have purified us like silver.
Ps 66:10

The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.
Proverbs 17:3

Godspeed 1st Bn, Alpha Co

Recruits in. Marines out.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Good Eats

A group of 40-year old buddies discuss and discuss where they should

meet for dinner...

Finally it is agreed upon that they should meet at the Gausthof zum

Lowen restaurant because the waitresses have low cut blouses and nice breasts.

Ten years later, at 50 years of age, the group meets again and once

again they discuss and discuss where they should meet. Finally it is agreed

upon that they should go to the Gausthof zum Lowen because the food there is

very good and the wine selection is good also.

Ten years later at age 60, the group meets again and once again they

discuss and discuss where they should meet... and, finally it is agreed upon

that they should meet at the Gausthof zum Lowen because they can eat in peace

and quiet and the restaurant is smoke free.

A decade after, at 70 years of age, the group meets and once again

discuss and discuss where they should have dinner. Finally it is agreed upon

that they should meet at the Gausthof zum Lowen because the restaurant is

wheel chair accessible and they even have an elevator.

Another ten years go by and at 80 years of age, the group meets again

and, after long discussions they decide to meet for dinner at the Gausthof

zum Lowen because that would be a great idea since they have never been

there before.


That's the number of votes the Healthcare Bill got in the House last night. So much for Stupak's principled Pro-life stance. A couple others joined him. I haven't bothered to look to see who. There'll be plenty of firey commentary in the air today from others.

On the bright side I guess this means we're one step closer to finding out what is actually in this bill. Like Madam Speaker said, if you want to know what's in it, pass it.

The ultimate statement of "Trust me. I'm from the Government and I'm here to help you." /heh

Going to look around for my reading glasses...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

2nd Amendment Saturday

It'll be June before we see what the SCOTUS has to say about Mr. MacDonald's gun. In the meantime this quote comes to mind as the days pass...

Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense?
Patrick Henry

Related somehow in my jumbled mind to the core issue of liberty, is the coming Sunday House vote on a 1000+ page bill. We wait and watch with a bare 72 hours to digest and comment on legislation that will give the .gov direct control of 1/6 of our economy.

What's that going to do for the cause of liberty?
Consider another quote from ol' Pat that is apropos of the day:

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.
Patrick Henry

As for the nature of the Healthcare Bill; the increasing public sense of entitlement for cradle to grave care and feeding at the tit of the Nanny State...

A couple more also apropos of the day:

When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different: Liberty, sir, was the primary object.
Patrick Henry

Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.
Patrick Henry

Friday, March 19, 2010

Freshly minted Devil Dogs

Was away for the week celebrating wedding anniversary #26. Stepped out to breakfast Weds morning without our cell phones and missed a call (first we've had) from the Son&Heir by just a couple minutes. Bummer.

He's in week 10 of Marine basic training at MCRD San Diego. The good news is we have his voicemail to replay. Great to hear him sounding upbeat, confident and strong. Well, at least what we could make out over the background hollering of the Drill Instructors. /heh

This video of their platoon (Alpha Co. 1007) was shot this week and posted today to the Devil Dogs site.

The Son&Heir is in the middle of the 1st row down from the top. He's 7th from screen right, first man to the viewers left of the only African American Recruit in that row.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mud at HUD

O'Keefe doing still more of the journalism that the MSM won't do. This time he is exposing HUD and their willingness to allow scams on the special Obama mortgage tax credit.

Hey, it's all stimulus ain't it. What's the harm in it? /heh (sarcasm off)

Full story at Wired Magazine.
What's equally damning of the establishment Left is the reaction by the Detroit Free Press when O'Keefe approached them with the story.

No hookers, no above the fold coverage?

Dunno how big a splash this story will make -- if at all. Sex sells, Mr. O'Keefe. Reckon you gotta find a way to get Miss Giles back on camera.

oops. there's that sarcasm thing again...

Maybe the Media coverup will be enough for it to get some traction and catch the public's imagination. Brietbart thinks that will be the key.

Brietbart understands the "Pop News" cycle and is using it to break stories under, around and inspite of the MSM. He understands the need for entertainment and titillation to engage minds of the mushy middles and the masses of the distracted.

It takes a really good hook (hooker?) to get folks to look away from the latest Brad and Angelina news in the checkout line and to consider some news of real import.

Breitbart starts to cackle. Of course he wants to see the tape. Sleazy HUD administrators are important, sure. But media covering up sleaze? That’s entertainment. “Dude, that’s the most important part!” he says. “I have seepage coming out of five parts of my body right now.”

Catch the public's imagination? If the story about corruption at HUD isn't a break out story, maybe body orifice seepage is. I guess "It Depends."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pallus Protector of Troy and Tea Parties

From the wiki,
In Greek and Roman mythology, a palladium or palladion was an image of great antiquity on which the safety of a city was said to depend. "Palladium" especially signified the wooden statue (xoanon) of Pallas Athena that Odysseus and Diomedes stole from the citadel of Troy and which was later taken to the future site of Rome by Aeneas.

That leads us to this great figure in American history and understanding the rights and responsibilities of free men to be armed and trained in the use of arms.

Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story was one of the most influential early commentators on the U.S. Constitution. If you've enjoyed recent historical movies, you might remember him from the Amistad case. The quote below about the 2nd Amendment is from his "Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, vol. 3 at pp. 746-747 (1833). (emphasis added)

"§ 1890. The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time ofanding armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facilee means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them. And yet, thought this truth would seem so clear, and the importance of a well regulated militia would seem so undeniable, it cannot be disguised, that among the American people there is a growing indifference to any system of militia discipline, and a strong disposition, from a sense of its burthens, to be rid of all regulations. How is it practicable to keep the people duly armed without some organization, it is difficult to see. There is certainly no small danger, that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt; and thus gradually undermine all the protection intended by this clause of our national bill of rights.

Ya get that?

"...and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them."


Freemen or serfs? Sheep or Sheepdog.

We all gotta choose.

Speaking of sheep and sheepdogs, here's great pic to illustrate. h/t lex

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

RKBA case study

Nuff said?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

2nd Amendment Saturday

Another Saturday and ol' Tom has still to say on the subject,

"What country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms, the remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is nature's manure."

According to McCullough's history of our 2nd President this quote by our 3rd President did go over too well with his old friends to the north, John and Abigail...