Design? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Design!

So, this blog has been hosted for the last several years on a server leased by a friend of mine. I was recently informed that he had moved all of his content off that server and was only paying the lease because it was hosting my blog. That was very nice of him, but also silly. I decided to move my blog over to wordpress.com’s free hosting platform so that he could close down that server.

Unfortunately, wordpress.com is much more restrictive in its design flexibility. I haven’t dug through all the options yet, but this particular look is not awesome. Hopefully I will get around to making it look better soon. Or maybe not.

*Edit: As of 2.23.15, I have settled on a design. At least temporarily. We’ll see how it goes.

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Design? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Design!

My Healthcare Journey Part Four, Or, Welcome To Idaho, How May I Help You?

In our last episode, I ended up finding out that the ones and zeros at healthcare.gov are both absolute in their dictates and shrouded in mystery.  Like a modern day Wizard of Oz for healthcare, not even their humble servants in the marketplace call center have ever seen them or know how to contact them.  ACA the wise and powerful hands down verdicts of eligibility with absolute sovereignty.  Due to this reality, I was advised to call my congressman. So I did.

I contacted both representative Raul Labrador and Senator Mike Crapo. Thankfully, I got responses from the representatives of both offices.  They were lovely ladies that were more than happy to help.  If we are keeping score, Labrador was about a week faster in his office’s response than Crapo, but they both get A’s for effort there.  About a week after contacting them, I got an email from Lisa at representative Labrador’s office indicating that she spoke with the Department of Health and Human Services (people! actual people!) and they said I needed to bypass the healthcare.gov website and apply for medicaid for my children directly through Idaho Health and Welfare.  Thanks representative democracy!

So I sat right down and filled out an application from Idaho Health and Welfare for medicaid for my kids.  Medicaid eligibility requirements really surprised me.  A family of 4 can make up to $3631.00 a month and still qualify for medicaid for children up to age 19.  Craziness.  The application was an interactive PDF.  Most of the questions were the same as the federal website, so I had had plenty of practice.  I filled it out, provided appropriate income verification form copies and mailed it off.  That was on the 8th of January.

On the 16th of January I got a letter in the mail stating that my application for Medicaid is denied. Here’s why:

Charis Eleanor Adams elected to decline their Medicaid eligibility.

Nora Jane Nicole Adams elected to decline their Medicaid eligibility.

Those crazy kids! Somehow my seven year old and 15 month old contacted the State of Idaho behind my back and told them they didn’t want Medicaid coverage! Part of me is proud of their American self-reliance.  They don’t need government support! They are patriots! Libertarians! Free citizens of the greatest nation on earth! They don’t need the nanny state running their lives!  I didn’t know I had imparted so much political theory to my children through my parenting, but apparently I’ve got a couple of Tea Partiers in my house.

Or maybe not.  I called Idaho Health and Welfare on the 17th and the lady I talked to laughed when she looked at my file.  She said that it looks like they made a mistake and that someone with more cred than her would call me back within 2 business days.

 

Image by Wikipedia.
My Healthcare Journey Part Four, Or, Welcome To Idaho, How May I Help You?

Makeup Culture, Or, How To Effectively Market Using Frightening Words

My wife wears makeup.  Not always. Not a lot. She looks nice.  This post really has nothing to do with that, but I thought I’d just throw it out there.

My wife gets the Ulta ad magazine in the mail.  Today I decided to read it.  It’s amazing.

First of all, do you have skin concerns? Of course you do! Read on to find out the horrific ways that a combination of modern chemistry and ancient soil/minerals/plants/bugs/etc will solve them.

The crazy thing about the Ulta magazine, or perhaps just the makeup industry (my experience here is limited), is that it effortlessly rocks back and forth between extremely sterile medical sounding products and vials full of something-the-neighborhood-witch-doctor-whipped-up.  For instance, there’s Stila.  Stila is a line of products, some of which are called “Glowing Reviews,” “Coming Clean,” and “Undercover.”  These products are made with

Alpine Rose Stem Cell Technology, Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamins A, C & E.

Stem cells from alpine roses? I didn’t know that was a thing.  And what’s the “technology” part about? Is that just the procurement of alpine rose stem cells, or is there more to it than that? I looked up Hyaluronic Acid on Wikipedia.  It seems pretty legit. It’s used in all manner of medical and cosmetic products for its skin firming benefits.  It’s also used in the “equine industry.” I found this nugget:

Note that, according to Canadian regulation, hyaluronan in HY-50 preparation should not be administered to animals to be slaughtered for horse meat. In Europe, however, the same preparation is not considered to have any such effect, and edibility of the horse meat is not affected.

Europeans eat horses? How did I not know this?  Also, Canadians, did you decide the skin on your horse meat was too firm and needed regulation? Is that actually what happened?

Sometimes the doctor talk and voodoo speak are mixed almost poetically, such as in Glow by Dr. Brandt – Ruby Crystal Retinol Hydracrème.  I think I’ve seen how that’s made.  There is a giant Nazi base under a volcano somewhere where the retinol gets infused with the light of a ruby laser…or something.  Anyway,

The synergistic ingredients of time-release retinol and micronized ruby crystals come together to resurface & instantly illuminate skin.

Does that mean your skin will glow?  Will it glow red?  How long will that last?  The best part is the bottle contains 0.5 oz.  I guess you only want to glow on special occasions.

Bliss makes a whole line of “Fat Girl” products.  Wow.  How’s that working for you?  Fat Girl Sixpack is a

tummy-toning gel with 6 active ingredients and ab-activating applicator.

This is not a weight or fat loss product.

What are the 6 active ingredients? Are they activated by your abs or do they activate your abs, and if so, what does that mean?  If it’s not supposed to be a weight loss product, what does it do, and why is it for Fat Girls?  Again, how did the guy in your marketing department that came up with that not immediately get fired?

My favorite part about most all of these products is the fine print.  Normally on products the fine print is something that the manufacturer has to put out there, but they don’t want you to really focus on.  I have a jar of peanuts in my cupboard that has “Peanuts” and “Made with Sea Salt” in large letters and “Enlarged To Show Detail” in small letters.  The peanuts aren’t really giant mutant peanuts, and the manufacturer is afraid you will sue them if they don’t explain that to you, but doesn’t want to draw a lot of attention to that.  I get it.

With the makeup thing though, the fine print is almost always what the product actually does.  There is a company called Philosophy.  They have 3 products they are selling on one particular page of this magazine.  They are “Miracle Worker,” “Hope In A Jar,” and “Time In A Bottle.”  This is the large print on the bottle/jar.  Below that are phrases like these:

your eyes are the windows to your soul not your age.

to witness a miracle is to know yourself. vital, brilliant, heavenly in body and spirit.

where there is hope there can be faith. where there is faith miracles can occur.

time can be on your side. when you focus on what really matters, time becomes your lifelong friend.

Then at the bottom, in the fine print, is a description of what you are actually buying.

Miraculous anti-aging retinoid eye repair

Miraculous anti-aging moisturizer

Original formula moisturizer for all skin types

Most of them contain the French version of those phrases in italics as well, because you know, French people are beautiful.

So I guess the thing is, ladies, what you really want to know that you have access to is “hope in a jar.”  Whether or not that is moisturizer or serum, miraculous or age-defying, hydratant anti-âge or formule originale pour tous types de peaux, doesn’t really matter much.

I’m sure I’ll never really understand this.  I guess I’m ok with that.  However, one last observation.  There are several “Acne Starter Kits” in this magazine.  Is that really the best way to market that?  Surely they aren’t for people that want to start acne, right?  It’s for getting rid of acne isn’t it?  Isn’t there a thesaurus full of words that could be used to sell this product better that “Acne Starter Kit?”  Does it come with a petri dish?

Makeup Culture, Or, How To Effectively Market Using Frightening Words

Vanity Plates, or, I Can Say Something Better With 7 Characters Than You Can

I just realized another way that I arrogantly judge people. I’m seldom shocked when this happens, but it’s still amazing to me that these kind of attitudes are buried inside my heart.

I was driving today behind a van with a license plate that said “PINAPLE.” I immediately thought, “That would make more sense if it said, ‘PINAPPL.'” I then realized that I do that every time I see a vanity plate. I try to figure out what it says and then I check to make sure that there isn’t a better way to have spelled it. Then I judge the person as somehow intellectually deprived if I can think of a better way to communicate that “I’m a sexy grandma” (SXYGRMA) or “This family is made up of 3 cats and a woman” (3KTNLAD).

I never consider than maybe the best vanity plate spelling was taken and they had to settle for second best. I just judge.

Vanity Plates, or, I Can Say Something Better With 7 Characters Than You Can

To Love And Have Lost Is Better Than To Have Not Loved At All, or, I Miss My iPhone

I have been without an iPhone for several months. I got rid of my iPhone so that I could save money. That sort of back-fired though. Here’s that story:

“$30 a month is a lot,” I thought. “My contract is up. I will use my free upgrade for a new dumb-phone, sell my iPhone on craigslist, and have an extra $30 a month.” Unfortunately, in resigning my contract, I had to accept the new terms of AT&T texting plans. My old plan was defunct. All new plans were more texts and more expensive. I went with a family plan sized texting plan which ended up costing $25. I lost my iPhone for $5 a month.

Why do I miss my iPhone? Here’s a partial list.

  • Instant directions.
  • Cataloging my life through pictures and twitter updates.
  • My guitar tuner/metronome app.
  • My voice memo app. (for recording song ideas)
  • It doubles as a flashlight.
  • A really solid alarm clock (with a custom playlist to wake up to)
  • HD video.
  • Not having everyone that calls me go “hey, let me call you back. There is a weird echo on the phone.” (granted, that’s more of a anti-current phone thing than a pro-iPhone thing, but still)
  • Calendar access.
  • Instant information. About anything.

Granted, that’s just a partial list, but it’s a start. Hopefully I will get another iPhone someday. Maybe.

To Love And Have Lost Is Better Than To Have Not Loved At All, or, I Miss My iPhone

A Short Story, or, The Last Pound Cake

Trips to Walmart are always exciting for me. It’s part Star Wars style pod race, part mission impossible theme song driven time trial, all kinds of exciting. At least when I go alone. I don’t like shopping with others.

Anyway, my Walmart story today begins last night at 8pm. I breezed through the store, strategically choosing my route based on where my predetermined items were located. I arrived at the express line within minutes. The following people were in front of me.

  1. A 50ish year old man of African descent. Big hair, big smile, short shorts. He was purchasing a chocolate pound cake. How do I know? “Have you ever had a chocolate pound cake?” he asked. “They are delicious!” Apparently he had called ahead to check on said cake’s availability at the store and was told that they were all out. Undeterred, he made the trip anyway (forgoing proper footwear in his haste) and snatched the last one, hidden from the bakery attendant’s eye. He had just enough milk left at home for one piece before bed.
  2. Behind him was someone’s grandfather. He had had something of a beer belly, but the sheer force of age had worn most of it down to his former, lanky figure. He too had a big smile and enjoyed his brief cake-related words with the man in front of him. He had 4 large bags of pre-popped white cheddar popcorn…and 5 apples. I can only assume it was movie night and his wife was watching her calorie intake.
  3. Next in line was the portly gentleman. Shirt tucked in, slacks, burnt orange mustache. He was on a mission, just like me. He didn’t care about the cake, the popcorn, or the apples. He was bothered to even be standing in line. He had work to do. There was a 1/2 gallon of vanilla and a 1/2 gallon of strawberry in his hands, and two packs of dark fabric iron-ons for inkjet printers. Yes, his evening consisted of making custom logo’d t-shirts and eating ice cream.

The cashier’s name was River. He had the earrings of a 22 year old and the mustache of a 14 year old. I paid with cash. He placed my goods in the bag on the opposite side of the carousel from me. I waited. He just stared into the bag. Finally, after a thoughtful pause, he picked it up and handed it to me. It was 8:20pm.

I walked out of the store with my jar of caraway seeds and my can of tomatoes and drove home.

A Short Story, or, The Last Pound Cake

His Brain, Her Brain, or, "No, Go Back, We Haven't Seen That Yet!"

My wife and I will have been married for 10 years next Friday. Overall, it’s been a good thing. I can pretty heartily recommend marriage to most people…seriously though, it’s been great. I am a holier person, more dedicated to Jesus, and my life has direction that I’m not sure it would have had otherwise. All of this is due to my marriage. My wife is a wonderful woman. But that’s not the point of this post.

Joanna and I are really different. Really. Really. Different. Case in point:

A couple nights ago, we were watching a movie on the computer. It was only half over but we were ready for bed. I waited until the movie got right up to the 1 hour 30 minute mark and stopped it. That way, the following night, when we wanted to finish the movie, I could just run the timer up to 1:30 and we would be right where we left off. A solid one and a half hours is easy to remember so I wouldn’t have to look for the right place. Joanna found this to be hilarious. She said she would never do that, opting rather to just fumble her way through until she found the right scene. She laughed hysterically at how weird I was. She’s the one with the plan to ruin the movie by getting the scenes out of order, but I’m the weird one.

Marriage, kids. It’s good for the soul. 🙂

His Brain, Her Brain, or, "No, Go Back, We Haven't Seen That Yet!"