Saturday, October 31, 2009

Going A Year Without Health Insurance

When I lost my job in late 2008, my healthcare benefits disappeared as well (though they weren't the greatest, anyway). The first thing I tried to figure out was how to still get my prescription meds for a reasonable price. I did some calling around and found a store where I could get them even cheaper than what I was paying with insurance. Interesting...

After a time, I looked online for affordable health coverage (an oxymoron if there ever was one). I pondered paying an exorbitant amount for catastrophic coverage, but after about 22 seconds, realized that it just wasn't justified.

Other than being curious about my cholesterol numbers, I've had no reason to see the doctor over the past year. Even if I had affordable coverage, I'd be down more than a grand as most health insurance costs more than a hundred dollars a month.

I haven't been extra careful when walking down the street (avoiding black cats, wearing glasses that are practical as opposed to fashionable, not telling smokers they smell like shit) as I feel that whatever happens, happens.

Circumstances have changed of late that lead me to believe I'll be back among those who are covered in the near future, but I have to admit to getting a bit of a kick out of not being covered. It's kinda like getting up every morning and heading to work without wearing drawers. I can certainly see the appeal it has for twentysomethings.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pimp My Bike

Throughout my college years (1989-1996), my main mode of transportation was by bike. In the early 90's, I had a standard Huffy 10-speed bike, the kind where you sit leaning way forward and have ridiculously skinny wheels. It got uncomfortable on long trips, but was much faster than walking. The seat was also small and didn't offer much support; this could be why I'm unable to father children.

Tired of getting my ass tore up (that's what she said), I went to Kolter's Bike Shop one afternoon and found an incredibly soft gel seat that was much bigger than the one I had for a mere $15. I purchased the thing of beauty and picked it up the next day (Mr. Kolter needed time to install it). The pleasure I felt on riding the bike home was incredible, like going from using the toilet paper that is furnished in Wal-Mart bathrooms to the softest and thickest shit you can dream of.

With the new seat, biking became more than just a way to get from here to there, it was a joy unto itself. When the time came to purchase a new ride, I decided that a mountain bike might be in order. The wheels were much thicker, they didn't have the ridiculously curved handles that 10-speeds do, and a water bottle was provided for those really hot days. It was also important that I purchased a bike that had a cool name.

As a child, I had a orange banana-seated bike called SkyHawk. I loved that thing. I once outrode a bully (Danny Lehnertz) who was trying to get me; I felt like Han Solo in the Millenium Falcon shaking the Imperials.

I wound up purchasing a green and black bike called Mojave Gulch. I took frequent out-of-town trips on it. I liked to head over the bridge into Wisconsin.

One time, I rode more than 12 miles into Trempealeau, a river town on the Wisconsin side. Instead of taking time to enjoy the city, I started to think about the long voyage back and headed back home. I probably should've been scared of the cars and trucks driving 55 MPH+ past me, but I can't say I was. I also visited my childhood hometown, Rollingstone. While there, I parked in the playground of the elementary school I attended and went on the swings. From there, I could see the house that we lived in in the late 70's and early 80's.

One spring, '92 I believe, I watched the Weather Channel every morning to see how warm it was gonna get. If it was going to be warmer than 50 degrees Fahrenheit, there was a good chance I'd take a recreational ride somewhere.

A couple years later, it was time to get another bike. This time, I chose Huffy's Stone Mountain.

It's the bike I had when I met my wife-to-be. A few months later, I bought a car, so no longer needed to ride the thing. However, on some afternoons, I took it out and rode the local trails. It's been years now since I've ridden a bike (Stone Mountain is in the garage, but his tires are flat), but I'll always be glad for the many years I spent being environmentally conscious by not driving a car (though my wife will probably never forgive me for the toll it wound up taking on my balls).

Monday, October 26, 2009

My First Time...On the Net

I remember the first time I hopped on the World Wide Web. It was 1994. I was about halfway through college. A high school friend and I went to one of the school's computer labs and gave it a whirl. We were both big on "Beavis and Butthead", so headed to a site about them. Only a few minutes later, my friend played a recording of them chuckling. A couple other people in the lab looked at him, fooling around while they were trying to finish assignments.

Sometime later, the school had a special lab set up where people could go to just surf the net. I liked going there in between classes. It was always a bummer when all the seats were taken. The video below reminds me of those early days when Netscape was the main search engine and many of the graphics were still quite primitive. Enjoy the trip back.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

(The Memory of) Pain is Temporary

Last winter, my wife and I went to Ashland, Oregon (I wrote extensively about it here). I was somewhat surprised recently to read that I had a reasonable amount of neck pain the first couple days I was there. Looking back now, it's like I didn't actually experience the pain, my mind seems to only want to remember the good things about the trip.

This is most likely a universal experience. So when we think that some past event was such an awesome time or that days gone by far surpass what we're going through today, most likely we're remembering the way it never was. Something to keep in mind the next time you get wistful for the past (though there's virtually no question that the Clinton years were the best of all times in which to live).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Two-Ton Tessie

A month ago, I posted video of our Saint Bernard when she was but a pup. Now here she is full-grown "playing" with little Zoe:

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I lost my sunglasses the day before last. Apparently, I left them on the trunk of my girl's car while it was parked in the garage and then forgot to obtain them the following morning when going to work (as it was rainy out). She didn't notice the spectacles as she left, so they musta fell off onto the road somewhere. I've had them for years, in fact, just a few days before, I was marveling at how I don't generally lose glasses; the previous pair I had for a number of years as well until they wore out. Both were Viper Blublockers purchased from a summer street vendor.

I was bummed for a bit before realizing I should take my own advice and see every change as an opportunity. I thought of ordering another pair online, but then felt it might be best to scope things out around town, see what else is out there. Perhaps I could find an old-school pair that would make people think I'm Don Draper.

One good thing about losing my glasses at this time of year is that the only time I'll be wearing them is in my car as the weather is not really favorable (and won't be for some time) for taking walks. I don't plan to spend any more than $25.

I can still remember the first time I bought sunglasses (at the age of 20). They were quite dark, kinda like the Terminator's. I was somewhat embarrassed the first time I wore them (walking to my Dad's place) as I felt I looked cool enough without wearing them, but WITH them, forget it.

UPDATE: Mission Accomplished. I bought (would you believe) ESPN glasses:

After purchasing them, I went to the grocery store to buy some food. For the heck of it, I perused their sunglass selection. While doing so, I glanced up and noticed a man reading a magazine. Which one? ESPN.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Take Your Pick

I do many things in the morning before leaving the house: taking a shower, getting dressed, pleasing myself. But I never seem to remember to "clean" my nose. I drive to work, work for a couple hours before nature calls and then head to the bathroom. Once there, I can literally feel my nose screaming for relief. It is then that I use my finger to pick at its residue. I really need to put something in my bathroom to remind me to do this shortly after waking.

I typically use the two minutes spent brushing my teeth walking around the house, petting the cat, and marveling at how someone I work with has over 500 friends on Facebook. Another of my colleagues recommended her as a friend, but wouldn't I be just a drop in the bucket to such greatness?

Sometimes at work, I'll want to itch my ass, but first have to look around to make sure no one is looking my way (as if they don't do the same thing). Walking around the lake when such an urge strikes, I'm tempted to do the same looksie, but am generally like, "Who gives a fuck?!" and just do it already. One can't live their life worried that others are gonna think less of them because they like to "itch" certain body parts.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

"I Loved It!", "I Hated It!"

A couple weeks ago, my wife and her friend went to Matt Damon's new movie "The Informant!". I told her that the reviews for it were excellent and she was able to convince her friend to go along with her. I returned from work one afternoon and listened as she told me that "it was terrible...but you might like it". I seriously doubted it was terrible, not with a Tomatometer reading over 70%, not from the director of Erin Brockovich and Ocean's 11 (as well as its sequels).

I finally had the opportunity to see it yesterday afternoon and found it to be very good; I chuckled a great deal as the story unfolded. One of the most amusing things was when Damon (as the narrator) would make statements to himself that had nothing to do with what was onscreen. Here is one of my favorites:

Mark Whitacre: Polar bears cover their noses before they pounce on a seal. How do polar bears know their noses are black? Did they look in the water one day, see their reflection and say, "Man, I'd be invisible if it wasn't for that thing."

I was mystified at how others could say that it wasn't good. It's like we literally saw different movies. My wife and her friend also didn't care for "(500) Days of Summer" which I absolutely adored.

Could it be they were expecting a standard romantic comedy while I knew it had an unconventional narrative and didn't necessarily end happily? I've been a fan for more than a decade of quirky, offbeat films while others may prefer the cookie-cutter pleasures of action movies and chick flicks.

That's why when someone says "That was an awesome movie!", it might help to know what their five favorite movies of all-time are. If "Transformers" is on their list, steer clear. At least I would, as that person's taste doesn't match up at all with my own. Call me crazy, but I like to see something unique when I go to the movie theatre, not the same ol' formulaic garbage.

BTW, in a nod to "Team America", when I went up to the box-office attendant yesterday, all I said was "Matt Damon" in the exact same way that it is said in these scenes.