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February 2014
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captainsblog [userpic]

Actually, I'm not. Not at the moment, at least. But the quote is significant to the story, in terms of the movie that it's from.

Recognize it?


Presciently, the network in that film was called UBS. And U are about to read about the BS we've been exposed to in the past day.

Eleanor has what we call "the good insurance," provided by Wegmans through its hometown Blue Cross carrier known as Excellus. She pays the first $500 of covered expenses, then 20 percent thereafter until hitting a maximum annual out-of-pocket of $750, and then, except for prescription co-pays and some odd-and-unlikelies, she's done. Last year, she hit the $750 by early spring due to her shoulder problems. This year, we expected, and budgeted for, the $750 to be eaten up by the two cataract surgeries in late February and early March.

Now. Not everything in the world is covered under her plan. For instance, the eye doctors explained that laser procedures would not be covered (at least not the $1,500 that they exceeded the traditional kind), but that standard surgery (which she opted for) would be. They were painstaking in providing her with lists of requirements and options and pre-surgery and post-surgery instructions.  And it was made quite clear that there would be three bills for each of the two procedures: one from the doc, one from the surgery place, and one for the gas-passer.

It's the latter which is currently causing the flatulence.


Previously, we paid something in the upper $600s toward Eleanor's pre-surgery clearance from her GP, and for the first of the two ambulatory center bills. So when our share of Doc Bill Number One came in at just over $150, it seemed about a Benjamin too high.  Eleanor spent a good couple of hours yesterday trying to sort receipts and other statements, but it took the actual explanation of benefit forms from Excellus to solve the mystery.

They're pretty good, once you actually access them (they don't mail them, and they need to be downloaded and then converted to pdfs to print them), but hers look like this:

So you get who did what, how much they charged (the "rack rate" you'd pay if you had no insurance), how much they reduced the bill by (because you do have insurance), and how much they and you pay of that "covered expenses" amount based on where your deductible and annual maximum amounts are.  Oh, and one other thing: "NETWORK PARTICIPATION  YES." This will be important later.

Because, it turned out, the anaesthesiologist fell into NETWORK PARTICIPATION NO" category.  And while we did get the benefit of a 50 percent reduction in that provider's charge on account of having insurance, we would be billed the full amount of each $480 remaining balance for each of the two facemaskings. None of it paid by Excellus, no deduction from deductible or annual maximum. Too bad, so sad.

And we would know this, how?  The doc didn't tell us. The surgery center made clear we would get separate bills from the three providers each time; it did not make clear that those providers might be out-of-network. What is the patient supposed to do- demand insurance identification from the gas-passer before the mask goes on?

So as of now, the thing has cost us that extra $100 or so of the bills to the covered provider, plus most if not all of the anaesthesiologist's charges. Having said that, I must also note that the gas-practice has not yet actually billed us for anything; maybe they have some deal with the doc, or somebody realized there was a screwup.

Also, it would have been far FAR worse if either of the other two providers had been out-of-network. We could have been out more like 10-12 grand if those bills hadn't been reduced by the Excellus fee schedule and then covered by the plan.

There will be calls, and letters, and maybe litigation, coming from this, unless it's just the 100 or so we're already out.  But the lesson has been learned. ALWAYS check EVERYTHING in advance when dealing with this behemoth of a beast.

captainsblog [userpic]

That's as close to an Orphan Black spoiler as you're gonna get here. Plenty of theories  and sidey-liney trivia, though.

No, the play Alison is in is not Cats, but it is a real script. Emily heard/read an interview with the showrunners where they said they wanted it to be something recognisable (Grease came up as a possibility), but they couldn't afford the rights to it for this purpose; then they toyed with writing their own "script" for Ali's "debut," but that would've just been too painful. So they finally located and bought up the rights to something that can only be described as a clone-ish musical adaptation of Sunshine Cleaning. Like the chopping off of a tail, it hurts, but only for a moment.

The Times review of the series on its S2 premiere was somewhat dismissive of the show, as being too low-budget Canadian sci-fi. But it did blow my mind with one factoid I'd completely missed: the actor who plays Dr. Leekie was, b-b-back in the day, the star of Max Headroom.

So there's that, and Fe in assless chaps, and quite a few other twists and turns.  I'm now working a theory that each of the clones, despite their genetic identiality, has her own special superpower. Sarah's, likely, would be the ability to reproduce; Cosima's, her superintelligence; Helena's, her [censored]; and Alison, well? Probably that darned craftiness;)

We have new villains, more dirt on the existing ones, and Art is potentially in a metric tonne of trouble now, but I suspect he rather likes it that way.  Plus anything that keeps him around the set is good, because somebody has to build a case against the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for stealing last year's Emmy from Tatiana.

Although Rachel would probably send a smartass lawyer to spring Robin Wright just before she confessed to it;)

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captainsblog [userpic]

I've spent Easter listening to and watching bunches of things I had no idea I'd be experiencing as recently as yesterday ("Jesus Descended into Hell" Saturday, therefore spent reading old Nixon speeches and watching Justin Beiber videos).

These include:

* Muppet Christ Superstar, a nine-song mashup of the Webber-Rice original that is about as sick as you'd expect. Here, try one or a few:


* The series premiere of the Billy Bob Thornton variation on the Coen Brothers' Fargo, which started last week on F/X. Only caught enough opening minutes to be sure it had recorded, but it looks awesome. In googling the time of its re-airing, I discovered that the Coens had tried to remake the movie for the small screen once before, that effort focusing on the Marge Gunderson character, and they got Edie Falco to play her in that pilot. Yep, Carmela and Jacks, you betcha. This is all I can find of it for now, but the full episode is supposedly Out There:

Fargo, Pilot from Thomas Wilkins on Vimeo.


* The Falco Fargo made this list of the strangest failed pilots you need to see. As did this, a concept written in 1991 by Conan O'Brien and his former SNL writing partner Robert Smigel. It's basically Adam West playing himself playing a washed-up tv crimefighter, much to the dismay of the Real Police. And this one is fully viewable:


* And finally, one I sadly needed to watch. JazzFM just posted about the death of legendary fighter (in many senses of the word) Ruben "Hurricane" Carter, who moved to Toronto after Bob Dylan and others helped secure his release. Better to die free and of illness than how it might have looked 40 years ago, and to have a Dylan song to memorialize your legacy with forever:

Hurricane - Bob Dylan from LA REVOLUCION ES AHORA! on Vimeo.


And that's not even a word about last night's Orphan Black, which we've recorded but have yet to watch.

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captainsblog [userpic]

The new laptop is in the house. Barely breaking a sweat and it's set up, connected to the internet, receiving my personal email (Outlook comes later for work) and has Firefox up and re-profiled with everything stored in it on here.

Only mistake I made was naming it. I mulled, and meandered, a good ten minutes before deciding on QueenOfToshiba. But Microsoft scheduled the christening too soon in the process- it's one of the first couple of prompts out of the box, and it comes before you've had a chance to realize the full, and completely different, Windows 8 experience.

So now, in hindsight, I know I should have named her, or rather HIM, in honour of my first encounter with the Windows 8 Man:


In fairness, I've found my way round 8 a bit in the past few weeks, helping Eleanor get it set up and running right on hers. And this one does not have a touchscreen as hers does, so it's not as jarring a change at my desk. Many of the differences can be preferenced away; I've already killed the enter-Windows-password-after-every-sleep function, and there apparently is a way to get it to boot to the traditional desktop rather than to the tiley-wiley thing it seems to be in love with. But the start menu, as such, is gone, dead, not coming back, and the Windows Explorer (or whatever they call it now) menus are different.  These will take getting used to.

Tomorrow is for Chrome, and Office, and (i)Tunes. Monday brings my specialty software; I've already tested the oldest and crankiest of those on Eleanor's 8-(wo)Man, and it seems to work there, so I assume it will here, too.  Then I'm away for two days, and Tobor will be staying home.  The still-working Vista machine will be my go-to for everything away from this desk, whether on days in Rochester or for longer shleps like the coming midweek will bring.


Even more seamless was the replacement for the newer of our two Android tablets; the one Eleanor had used before the new laptop lost its sound and was having some other issues, and my guru simply upgraded me to an even newer and sleeker ASUS model. So new and sleek that I can't find a single thing to plug into it other than the power cord and an earbud jack. But God bless Google, because as soon as I gave it my gmail address, it sync'd through the air with the greatest of ease and all of my apps came on to it without me lifting a finger.  (Cloud-based content such as Kindle also came right with, although library and music content have to be moved manually.) I also discovered a cool (and free) wifi app that I can use to transfer those, and any other, files from any wireless-enabled device in this house onto the n00b.

I haven't named this one yet.  Maybe keep with the missed 8-Man opportunity and go with Professor Genius?

This entry was originally posted at Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

captainsblog [userpic]

Buffalo remains a very old-school Catholic town, and so Good Friday is a much bigger deal here than I ever remember it being growing up, or in my years in Rochester. Many offices, and some courts/clerks, close or at least close early for the day; and as I drove into North Buffalo this afternoon to meet a client I could not meet at a closed office, I passed a half-dozen different parishes, from SS. Peter and Paul down Main Street from us to St. John the Baptist in Kenmore, all with full throngs risking alternate-side parking tickets in the middle of the day.

Even the booming Easter candy business slows to a crucifixion procession of a crawl.    This town goes major gaga over chocolate for this holiday, with candy shops doing their biggest business of the year and a local manufacturer renting storefronts to pass out the bunnies. Most of them have employees in pastel Easter Bunny costumes who ply the sidewalks out in front of these stores, stylin' for the passing traffic. (I first encountered one of these in law school and almost got into a car accident when a driver was distracted by her "LOOK MOMMY!" toddler and almost plowed into me.)

Today, the Niagara Candy outlet closest to us was open, but Bunnykins was missing from the Sheridan sidewalk. Several others in my travels were out and about on the streets despite the gloom and doom of today's observance, and toward the end of the day, I got riffing at my bank about a hypothetical throwdown between the dueling rabbits of Niagara Candy and Sweet Jenny's:

Yo Jennufuh! Your chocolate eggs taste like pellets!

Hey Viagra Candy! Yo momma multiplies like rabbits- with me!

It's gonna be so much more fun in hell, yaknow....

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She writes [userpic]

Thank god it's Friday.

captainsblog [userpic]

I started this blog 10 years ago today.

That's all I have to say about that.

captainsblog [userpic]

Ba ba ding a dong ding Blood-blood-blood-blood moon, dip di dip di dip....♫

That's what we've had the past several nights, and maybe that's why the ensuing days have been just plain weird.

Tuesday, in addition to being Tax Day, was a day of other significant deadlines for several clients, and seemingly every single one of them missed the deadline, or just got in barely under the wire.  Things got worse for one of them yesterday and worse still today. But I've pulled off so many miracles in this case in the past, I'm just tempted to smile and wave at the client and say,


Yesterday then brought a year-ago client and a months-ago opponent out of their respective woodworks- both for the good, I think. One consequence of the former is that I am now due to be in Utica on the morning of the 23rd, which makes it logical for me to make a trip to Binghamton for the evening of the 22nd.


Continuing our relentless march into the 21st century, I picked out a replacement for this laptop earlier this week, first time in ages I've done it on a preventive basis rather than after witnessing a major system crash. The salesperson (same one who sold us Eleanor's new laptop and helped us switch it out when it died a sudden painful death at the age of 10 days) will be back in on Saturday, when I plan to pick it up. She also let me switch out the wireless adapter for this machine, which I bought from them in October, and which spontaneously stopped working a week or so ago. Having it is not crucial for this machine, since I've been able to connect it by ethernet cable to the new cable-with-wireless modem, but it did allow me to re-Internetize the XP machine in Emily's room. Its older wireless adapter wouldn't play nice with the new wifi, but with the external one enabled, it does so nicely.

And, oddly? Despite all the warnings and XPocalyptic red balloons about THIS OPERATING SYSTEM IS NO LONGER SUPPORTED AFTER APRIL 8? Windows delivered a full suite of updates dated April 16th to that computer, including Internet Explorer 8, Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool and Microsoft Security Essentials- all while saying in big red letters that they wouldn't anymore.

This is not the operating system you're looking for. Move along with the download.


A neighbor just gave us a couple pounds of ground coffee they'd won in various things, because they do exclusively K-cups now.  We have one of those machines in the Rochester office, and they seem awfully wasteful of time and material relative to just heating up a self-measured spoonful or two. But the machine always ends the cycle with a noise that sounds like the Addams Family doorbell, and I am not one who is gonna get into an argument with Lurch.


I was going to link to something on the Boston Globe website, but the URL was out of date, so instead I got their standard 404 page:

I'm sure it helps the Hub's consciousness that they've won three World Series titles to the Mets' none since the end of that event.


Windows (the literal kind) are back open, the sun is out, and while it's cool, it's cool- and all (or at least mostly) good:)

This entry was originally posted at Please comment here, or there using OpenID.

captainsblog [userpic]

You (if "you" are of a certain age) remember the frequent trope from Bugs Bunny cartoons. A character is bamboozled, and upon realizing it, does a fantastic turn into a standup piece of candy:

You can see it here, although the recording they uploaded kinda sucks.

As does what I found out at, oh, close to ten last night.

I told a couple of stories here a few weeks ago about the lonely and dangerous road that lawyers sometimes travel on. Not much new to say about L1 from that tale, the one I've known for awhile, but the road for L2 just came to a sad and, for me and a mutual client, a rather deceitful end.

The short version: I was hired to work with L2 for a client, after it started having communication problems with him. It took me weeks to have any communication with him at all, and I eventually had to resort to an extreme remedy- moving for a court order to replace him.  Usually, you don't have to do this; clients always have an absolute right to hire and fire (subject to any right of payment you might have), and it's almost always resolved by just signing and filing documents to reflect the change. But this guy could not be reached- not by email, phone or even on in-person visits.

The day after I got an initial order signed to provide for his discharge, but before I'd served it, he suddenly emailed me, and he was suddenly cooperative. I told him I had papers for him I needed him to see that day, but he was out of town, so I delivered them as the order required and waited.  A week later, he met me in the lobby of a courthouse I had business at, and signed the necessary consent papers. He still wanted to help, and the client still wanted his help, so we agreed to meet about it two days ago. He was more-or-less prompt, completely candid about the case itself, and we made plans to meet next week to update things.

Then he walked into a courtroom yesterday and got himself disbarred:

A Buffalo attorney pleaded guilty Tuesday to embezzling $18,550 from an escrow account that held money to be paid to his client as part of a proposed settlement of a civil lawsuit he had filed for the client.

[The 45-year-old] faces a maximum prison term of 28 months to seven years when he is sentenced July 14 by Erie County Judge Michael F. Pietruszka on a felony charge of third-degree grand larceny. He was released on his own recognizance.

His attorney [said he] hopes to make restitution payments between now and sentencing.

In the meantime, [he] is disbarred as a result of pleading guilty to a felony, according to Assistant District Attorney Brian P. Dassero.

The prosecutor said [he] used the money for personal expenses, including paying for his children’s education, between April 1, 2013, and Oct. 31, 2013.

This was within a day of his sitting five feet away from me, talking about our case's history and what he hoped to do to help.

I had to break it to the client this morning (mine was not the one embezzled from), and we're going to regroup in a couple of days to decide how best to proceed.

I saw the signs a month ago- nonresponsiveness, broken promises, yet still with a goodness about both the quality and quantity of work he was delivering when you did communicate with him.  I'd never encountered him before this occasion, but I wonder how many other lawyers, judges, other bar officials did have such encounters and did nothing to stop it and nothing to help.

Because any of us can be one bad circumstance away from being in the exact same place.

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She writes [userpic]

HENRY. FREE TO GOOD HOME. Or any home. This this this... Unbelievably naughty kitten is on my last nerve. It's a good thing there's no circus in town, because poof. I'd take a wooden nickel for her tonight.

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