Maybe 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Yeah, with license plate readers any sticker system is outdated, stupid, and sucks, but hey, this is Texass.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 work…Ure exaggerates again/still…”
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):
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
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.