Coping: George Takes a “Bureaucracy Day”

imageMaybe it is not the best use of my time, but Elaine’s not keen on doing it, so it falls to me to suffer through one of our periodic “Bureaucracy Days.”

There are only a couple of things I have to work on that are specifically related to this marvelous system of government we have, but they are the sort of things you can’t live without.

Take getting the car license current, for instance.

I sent in what used to work in Texas to get the car licensed.

That included a check for about $70-bucks, a copy of our current car insurance, and their forms.

Should have been done with.

But Monday’s mail brought an “Application declined” letter stating that I had failed to include a copy of the current vehicle inspection report.

Not to bore you with details (but I will…) Texas used to have an inspection sticker program.  The old way was simple:  You went to an authorized inspection station, paid them $14-bucks, and they would issue an inspection sticker.

The county auditors (who issue the car license) didn’t used to give a rip.  They just wanted proof of insurance and money.

NOW what has happened is Texas has done away with the inspection sticker and in its place is an electronic system. 

Yeah, with license plate readers any sticker system is outdated, stupid, and sucks, but hey, this is Texass.

Here’s what the bottom line is:  Whereas before, you could get the inspection sticker when it was convenient (and there was a 5-10 day grace period after the end of the sticker month) NOW you need to get the insurance first (or the inspection station won’t check the car), THEN  you get the inspection certificate, and this allows you to go to the County Auditor’s Office whereupon they will THEN accept your money for the registration sticker.

It all goes into the cop accessible computer system, and you get something to block your vision to put in the windshield with is 99 kinds of stupid.  More civilized states have plate tags.

Since this is September 22nd, and we are off traveling again on the 29th or 30th, and since we will use the old Lexus to drive to the airport, I can’t trust that mailing in the certificate will work.  Car goes in the hangar when we travel.

If I get the certificate today (which is a fair assumption), and were to bring it home, Susan the Post Office Delivery Representative (or whatever the politically correct and approved designation of the mail carrier is, anymore) will have already been – and gone.

So the Ure mail-in application – (form, check, insurance whizzy, inspection certificate) – would not be picked up until the 23rd,  which means it would arrive at the Clerk’s office on the 24th and be ready for pick-up on the 25th, which is Friday.

To Postal Person Susan’s credit, it might get here – or not – on Saturday.  But if it doesn’t then  it would be at least Monday.  And I will be busy getting ready for…

Thus, to eliminate the postal time-lag, I will be doing everything in person.

It will take me one hour of travel time and likely a half-hour of monkey-motion (wasted do-nothing time standing in line and such) of my extremely valuable time in order to get a sticker.  I can recapture 30 minutes by reading the Kindle while waiting.

That’s the car.  Now, let’s talk about drugs.

When you get older (and if you take any prescriptions) there are mountains of small details that mount up into half a day of bureaucracy time.  For example, some of my time today will be spent begging with the local pharmacy to let me get more than 30-days worth of medications so I don’t have to come into town so often.  More than once a month gripes me.  They fall back on “policy” which is a buzzword for “made up rules you can’t question” which makes me see red.

“Look you stupid so and so – I am not planning to die for 90 days, so why not do three months instead of one?”

They won’t give in, I’m sure – but that’s how corporate-government bureaucracies work.

George, that’s not a whole day’s workUre exaggerates again/still…”

Au contraire!

The car and the pharmacy are just the warm-up.  After I get this one, the rest of Bureaucracy Day will be spent on two more “must do” projects…

The Medicare Mayhem

We are only a couple of weeks from the annual Medicare Roulette Game. 

Every year, us seniors get to bet our lives and finances on beating the insurance companies.  They spend 365-days a year trying to screw money out of everyone, we only have a few weeks to sort it out, and in the meantime, life goes on.

This year, I’m doing my damnedest to be ahead of the curve.  Since we’re both over the 66 barrier, here’s what happens according to the Understanding Medicare Dates flyer over here  (which I don’t):

image

If you are not on Medicare yet, all I can tell you is that in order to make an intelligent decision on which plans to buy, you need a week or three to weed through all the options and smoke out what makes sense.

As they have come in, I kept all of our “Monthly Prescription Insurance Benefit” papers.  (*One of the joys of our high speed Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Deluxe Bundle Scanner for PC (PA03656-B015) (Except ours is the earlier one that came with Adobe Acrobat 10 but it was a few more bucks)  I can pull anything out of the hat and look at the cost benefit.

How the Prescription Insurance Scam works:  I take several prescriptions:  The generic Singulair, an Albuterol inhaler (lifetime of asthma) , HTZT for blood pressure, and Allopurinol for gout prevention along with with more vitamins (and a baby aspirin)  than you can shake a stick at. 

The monthly cost of “insurance” is about $30 bucks, or $360 per year.,

I have co-pays which come to about $180 per year.  So my out of pocket is $540.  The annual cost of the drugs is about $480, so the insurance company wins this spin.  Bastards.

It’s even worse for Elaine.  Her cost – like mine – is around $360 per year for the prescriptions and she doesn’t have any meds at all.  Just a glass of Riesling with me on the deck every afternoon around 4 PM. 

But, because you can’t buy the coverage when you NEED it – you have to plan in advance…we look at this as a complete waste of money…which is what home insurance is, too, at least till the house burns down or the burglars show up when you’re out shopping.  There;s precious little difference between government insurance of any kind of sex workers.  Everyone will get screwed seems to be the deal in either case.

Still, since you were wondering (or not), this is how I will spend the rest of my Periodic Bureaucracy Day.

Not to put a bug in the ear of Organized Labor, but should we each get a couple of days per year as paid holidays to do things like sort out Obamacare, Medicare, Car licenses, Drivers license, annual physicals, time to appeal property taxes, and so on?

And I ain’t done yet.

Airplane O-Ring Madness

If you haven’t figured it out yet, Elaine and I are taking off next week to fly to the national Baby Beech fly-in which will be held in an unnamed city on the upper Mississippi.

The long-range weather forecast is calling for rain.

Although our airplane has already had a ga-zillion dollar annual inspection, complete with engineering for an Alternative Means of Compliance and bureaucracy of the FAA adventure, and did I thank Waylon up at Mags E.R. in Arkansas for the most excellent 500-hour overhaul (with fresh yellow tags) for the mags?

Back to point:  We may be flying through rain.  And I think the FAA and Beech left Service of the Gas Caps off the annual inspection list. 

If it’s already been done, we’ll do it again, anyway…mainly because I know how gravity relates to air speed.

It’s not a big deal to overhaul them:  Remove a cotter pin, the castellated nut, and take out the plunger – latch post.  Put on a  two-bit 1/4” O-Ring with a bit of lube and reassemble.  Which the Mechanic will do so it is signed off to the bureaucrats satisfaction…

Thanks to some fellers in the  Beechcraft club (a wonderful resource) I found the required O-Rings to replace the existing ones…and then found no end of debate on which lubricant to use.

One school of thought says Easy-Turn, which is a fuel lube.  The other school of thought says Dow Corning DC4 – which is silicone-based is better.  I got both.

Here is where Bureaucracy steps in. 

The O-Rings come to $5-bucks.  The lubricants *(since I got both) to put them on right, come to about $30.  (A drop of oil would work back in the old days, but not in “modern times”)

And since there are two sizes of O-Rings, do I need to buy a Certificate of Compliance ($15 each size) to put that in the logbook?  Or, do I need a certificate of compliance at all?

The odds of this ever being an issue (legally) are infinitesimally small.  If I flew for hours on end in rain (no fun in itself) and water got into one tank, could I experience enough water to have one tank fail?  Not after maintenance…but it’s one of those things.  Plan for the worst, route for the best – and no rain if possible.

IF we flew through horrific rains and if both tanks got so much water that the engine stopped, just how sleazy would an insurance company be?  (The correct answer is “as sleazy as they would manage in order to avoid a claim…).  So:  how much paper trail do I do now?

This little gem too, is on my “Bureaucracy Day” list – a chat with the Jeremy the Mechanic about how many of these certificates, if any, will be necessary if I fly through repeated torrential downpours on the way to hang out with equally crazy people…And when can I fly the plane over to his place to have him perform the maintenance and sign the logbook.

What we have here is a peach-dandy example how a $3-dollar preventative maintenance issue which I ought to be able to do myself balloons into a $250 problem consisting of certificates, special lubricants, two shipping charges, 20-minutes of Mechanic time, a piece of emery cloth plus 1.3 hours of flight time ($65 of fuel plus engine reserves plus two landings)…

This is how The System provides for Full Employment.  And maybe that’s why John Kerry is in such a rush to bring in military-aged Muslims and let the Mexico border keep leaking problem kids.

I must not appreciate something about how all this all stiches together into a robust country, but I’m not sure what I’m missing, exactly, either.

The Problem with Damascus, II

Oh crap. 

We were talking about Damascus…and after a flurry of emails with Chris Tyreman of www.thechronicleproject.org, come to find out that the description is not “Ruinous Heap” at all.

Yet another mis-translation seems to rear its head in the bible.

What translates using Self-Defining Hebrew (SDH) is not “ruinous heap” but is really more like the word Diaspora from the city itself…and friend, we are there right now

But more on this Thursday, since I will be huddling with Chris on Skype  hopefully about 1 PM his time today so I can jot down more notes and expand on the details in Thursday’s report…

Hangar Talk:  Baked Wood

I happened to catch a new alternative to pressure-treating wood that made it into one of my (too man y) woodworking magazines. 

The idea is that some hardwood kiln operators have found that if they keep “cooking” wood which goes into a kiln for drying, an extra-long time, the wood changes.

It’s being sold on the market as thermally modified wood – and it is both harder, more insect, and more rot resistant that conventional wood.

It’s also not cheap.  But it’s the new “trick pony” for us wood scrapper types.  The Wikipedia entry on it says in part:

Thermally modified wood is wood that has been modified by a controlled pyrolysis process of wood being heated (> 180 °C) in absence of oxygen inducing some chemical changes to the chemical structures of cell wall components (lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose) in the wood in order to increase its durability. Low oxygen content prevents the wood from burning at these high temperatures. Several different technologies are introduced using different media including nitrogen gas, steam and hot oil.

Of course, it’s more expensive than regular wood, but it sure sounds like an interesting material since I’m in the middle of deck rebuilding due to uninvited dry rot.

Take a look at the Wiki entry at the color of that 200C roasted beech wood.

I see things like this and begin to wonder….how long before someone adapts this wood for use in airplanes – and how long before something like a turbo Super Viking (with wood wings) is redone using this emergent technology…A turbo Super Viking is a 200 knot hole in the sky waiting to be filled with money…

Price to knots?  You want to compare that with an upscale Cirrus?

OK, off to the paperwork run…

Write when you break-even.  Q4 outlook part 1 tomorrow.  Part 2 on Saturday for www.peoplenomics.com readers.

George   george@ure.net

Comments

Coping: George Takes a “Bureaucracy Day” — 9 Comments

  1. Your prescription problem has already been solved. Most pharmacies (Walgreens, CVS, ExpressScripts) will ship drugs ordered by mail (hence the term “mail order”). Or the internet. Or the phone. Or by fax. Even a mom-and-pop will mail your order if it means keeping your business. And instead of 30-days supply, you get 90-days supply (at only 2.5x the 30-day copay) if you let their national pill counters fill the order because they have economies of scale at their warehouse-based operation (every flavor is on tap in a dispensing machine, so manual labor is minimized and unskilled). They do have pharmacists you can talk to toll-free and they somehow have at least one on duty who’s licensed for each state (I imagine the reps push a button and the computer patches one in for a three-way until the rep hands-off your call or dismisses the pharmacist) and I’ve never had one from India.

    Another thing you might want to try is ordering refills online really early (like after 20 days). It won’t be filled right away, but will get filled early (maybe 25 days). Do that for 6 months and you’ve got a whole month’s extra pills accumulated (just remember to FIFO them), but if you wait a few days to go to town to pick them up the computer resets the renewal to 25 days after your pickup, whereas with mail order the next 25 day cycle begins when the previous order ships. The refill timing on the 90-day supplies will be different.

    The only problems might be heat-sensitive drugs (your mailbox isn’t big enough for a dry ice shipment), and controlled substances require a signature from a live adult. And you’d want to have a locking mailbox for other shipments, although that won’t help with FedEx or UPS delivery.

  2. All this time I thought you were controlling your BP with your diet and supplements.

  3. One option for your prescriptions is to just go down to Mexico and get whatever you need, most likely even without a prescription. There are also cheap doctors there. There is a medical complex over the border south of Phoenix that gets an estimated one million visits by retirees every year for cheap prices.

    I had an outbreak of scabies on my first trip back to the USA. $125 for clinic visit, it was a misdiagnosis. My nurse wife diagnosed it correctly over Skype from Ecuador. Back for another visit, $180 because holiday weekend. Also because when I told them what I had the doc suited up in Biohazard gear before entering the exam room. Got prescription, $35 for a tube. In Ecuador, simply walk down to pharmacy, show pharmacist the rash, buy tube for $7, go home. Literally all none addictive medications are available without prescription. My wife is a nurse, and is good buddies with the pharmacist whose sister just happens to be a doctor. Between the two of them, they have saved expats from a hundred trips to the doctor over in the next city. But the kicker is, a doctor visit is always $30 or less, free if you are a senior if you don’t mind waiting to be seen. Today’s column describes overhead, in the form of services, most of which are not available here, NOR DO WE EVEN MISS THEM!

    George, I hate to tell you, living in the USA is not a business model. And when a high level decision is suboptimal, every decision you make to implement that suboptimal decision feels suboptimal to the competent person.

    I used to weep for people like you whose lives eventually become so complicated in their later years that they eventually just break down. Now I realize that those who refuse to investigate in first person life outside the USA deserve the fruits of their arrogance. There is a reason there are a million USA expats in Mexico. It’s because you can live your life like every day is a vacation, for less than it costs to live in the USA.

    As the song says, every form of refuge has its price. For me, the price of a bottle of Beam just went up to $45. Filet mignon with a plate of veggies and mashed potatoes is still $9.

    • Hmmm,replacing political corruption with political instability AND corruption isn’t my idea of a retirement option.

  4. By about 3 garden towers and grow your own herbs and medicinal things then when the price goes up you’ve got it on your back porch or your front porch

  5. When I get my yearly check-up from the Dr. I have had him write the prescription for 90 days worth of pills and 3 refills. I now have had it written for 365 days and no refills. My pharmacy will fill the years worth of pills in one visit. Have been on my pills for years and they are not likely to change. This works for me. Hope it helps.

  6. Dang George, here in the backward state of Arkansas, we can do all registration, paying taxes and assessing over the phone or internet and mail service here from Little Rock is a very reliable 2/3 days…Arkansas also dropped the inspection thing years ago. As far as your prescriptions go, it’s not up to your pharmacy, it’s up to your doctor…getting a 90 day prescription also lowers the price. If you have a friend that is in insurance, have them go over your medicare options, sister was in insurance for years and she interprets all the greek for the entire family.

  7. Sounds like on its way to ‘petrified wood’ which is quite strong! I think they are increasing the ‘young men’ population to put them into wars without end. They realize there is going to come a point when Americans are not going to want to send their kids into any more illegal wars. So, the prep right now is to bring in the illegals and others of military serving age and give them free citizenship if they serve (we have some of that going on right now). They will purge the services of American citizens and then re-fill them with this group of young people. The average person won’t be able to speak to the person next to them, but they will all be able to follow orders.