Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Dear Valued Member: Bend over!


For All Your Insurance Needs!
Get the Peace of Mind that PottervilleMega brings!

June 18, 2014

Dear Valued Member,

     We're Going Paperless to serve You better!  You will no longer receive paper copies of your Explanation Of Insurance Benefits, telling you which recent medical services we decided to pay only 13 cents and a Big Smile for.  Instead....

     Visit our corporate web page for it!

     Yes!  You can receive your Explanation of Benefits online, without waiting a few extra days to get it in the mail, which we know means everything to you!  We also know how much you love to spend time on corporate websites!

     So go to PottervilleMegaBendOverInsurance.com and create an account!  It's easy!

     Click "Hail Yes, I want desperately 
          to Create an Account!"

     Create a unique but respectable username,
          NOT using any sarcastic versions 
          of our company name
          (i.e., "PottervilleVictim," or 
               etc. None of that, now.)

     Enter your 17-digit member number;

     Create a password of 8-16 characters, 
          2 capital letters 
               (neither of which may 
               be the 1st character)
          1 to 3 symbolic characters
          and the name of any boy band!  [See Note 1]

     Choose and answer ANY THREE 
     of the following Security Questions:

          Latin name of your first illness?
          Name of any historic OTC drug 
               that later became a 
               prescription-only drug?
          What was your first circus souvenir?
          On what street did your father work 
               when you were 3 years old?
          Telephone number of your 
               first elementary school?
          Your 7th grade GPA?

     And You're done!

     Now You can see Your information any time, once You log in and wait for all nine animated slideshow items showing cheerful people, with great teeth, expressing delight over the joy of having one more corporate website in their lives, to finish playing, followed by a fade-in pop-up box showing Your site choices, with "View my account" at the bottom, off-screen until You scroll down! [2]

     If you prefer not to Go Paperless, simply go to our website, create an account, and choose 

     [  ] "I am an outdated, uncooperative jerk who cares nothing about saving PMBOI paper, postage, or the salaries of all the people we're laying off, which will not give me a premiums reduction, but will save trees and I hate trees, so please continue paper statements."

     It's that easy!  And there's no additional charge for all these cheery exclamation points which have put you in a happy, enthusiastic mood, haven't they?  Come on!  Let's see that smile!



[1]   U2 is not a boy band.  We're tired of people trying to shortcut with this, so we've also disabled the use of "U" as your capital letter, if it is paired with the numeral "2".

[2]  The scroll-down function may not work on some browsers and devices.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


    What is unseen
     flows to what is unseen
     passing in part
     through what we partly see

          -  W. S. Merwin

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Happy Flag Day

Feeling pretty fortunate today.  Have a good one.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Here comes money trouble

So in the past few months, an occasional news story has said food prices would rise, last year's drought being a major factor.  Lots of extreme weather and crop damage in 2013.

I read them and thought, yes, we'll be paying "more," a term that's a solvable problem when you're in the privileged class, and a crisis when you're trying to feed a family and make ends meet.

We have watched three different stores cut, and cut, and cut items we buy.  It wasn't one chain in trouble, it's all of them around here.  Fewer organics, fewer gluten free (purchased on a real MD's advice, so please, no lectures about how moronic the gluten-free "trend" is), less variety in general.

Today we hit our most-visited supermarket.  I was flabbergasted at the start, AND at the finish.

You'll need to enlarge it to read the price tabs.  I thought they were a mistake.  Seriously.  And they weren't.

I've bought these fruit juices, yes, organic and pricey, for several years for breakfast smoothies.  They've crept up from the 3.99 range into the 4.99-ish rage, and when I read about crop failures I must have thought they'd jump a full dollar (or gosh!  even more!).   But...??!  Not to nearly 10 dollars.  Tack tax onto that.

Nearly 10 dollars.

The store knows that's not gonna fly, and they've just started stocking a new brand, also organic, back down at 5.89, and I did buy it.

On we shopped, with our usual list.  Long ago we decided that healthier food was an investment that might keep us a little healthier, a little longer, as aging and higher disease risk started workin' their magic.  So for stuff we use most, we have not bought the cheapest options for a very long time.

We also do plenty of of regular, normal Big Food Industry products.   Each is a considered decision.  Organics are more important when they're something we consume a lot of.  I get organic juice in glass bottles, and not major non-organic brands in plastic bottles.  We do organic milk.

This is all to point out that our shopping doesn't change much.  So when we got to checkout and the total was

TWO HUNDRED FIFTY-NINE dollars, I was ......  I was......

I can't provide an item by item comparison.  We got two containers of whey protein, not one, and two magazines, but they don't explain this being about $80 more than I was used to spending for similar -- again, not identical -- but similar carts full.

This is unsustainable.  Partly for us, but we can adjust and comparison shop and work harder at it, but mostly for the economy.

Those brands in the photos can't stay in business if they have to charge close to 10 bucks for a bottle.

The substitute brand will supposedly have to raise its prices too, even if they manage to beat the competition.  I don't think close-to-$8, or close-to-$9, will sell much better than close-to-$10 does, and more shoppers will be over in the Big Food juice aisle, dropping spending back down, but to the standard brands' also-rising prices.

Families with budgets are already there in the Big Food aisle, where those higher prices will hurt them, badly.  Where will they get the extra money?

I'm liberal but I am not a progressive  (whole 'nother topic), and Mother Jones magazine annoys me way too often, but it does have some good information, and one column in the March/April issue was enlightening about SNAP buyers and how they stretch their dollars.

Don't get me started on the writer's defense of using SNAP money for junk food, which made me say very bad words.

So.  How much further can these buyers stretch it?

The crash of 2008 had analyses written about it ad nauseum.   One article I recall from very early in the crash pointed out that the trigger was the gas price jump.  Not that the mortgage debacle wasn't the root cause, not that the economy was healthy before that.  It emphatically was not.  But its plates could keep spinning in the air until those homeowners paying those absurd mortgages could no longer budget for them.  And that was the extra 30, 50, 100 dollars they had to put in their gas tanks every month.

That's what the article said, and, again, it wasn't the root cause, and multiple other articles haven't mentioned it (though I could have missed some) but it had to be a major factor.  The dollars of your income per month are the dollars of your income per month, even if filling your tank has jumped from $30 to $50.  I remember emptying my account to fill a Honda Civic's tank, and I know for sure a whole population getting hit that hard was unsustainable.

Here we are again.  Natural events may have jacked this basic budget item up, but how many families' budgets will tank this time, and can we do anything but batten down?