pameladean: (Libellula julia)
I'm posting this both because it's been too long since I posted anything other than a plea for help with tree services and other domestic matters, and in order to see how crossposting from Dreamwidth to LJ is going to work for me.

A couple of weeks ago, the last leaves came off the ivy at the corner of the roof where the sunrooms at the front of the house meet the main body of the house. It looked weird to me. I finally got a look at it in good daylight and realized with dismay that the intermittent gnawing of squirrels that I had been hearing was not, in fact, their fruitless attack on the fortified window air conditioners, but a successful attempt to chew right through the fascia board and into the attic. Raphael and I had both heard the thunder of squirrel feet, which sounded pretty much like cats running overhead, except that we don't have cats in the attic. I provided this news to such fellow residents as were at home and started looking around for a small, reliable, cost-effective outfit to deal with the squirrels.

In the interim, the handle broke off the upstairs bathroom faucet. David had a terrible cold and was not available either for faucet replacement or for anything involving using his voice, which was on strike. I called our usual plumber, who had very strong opinions on what kind of faucet was best -- certainly not the kind that had broken -- and where I should get it, and said he would install it when I had gotten it.

In a frenzy, I got on a bus and went over to Park Supply America in our old neighborhood -- it's at the corner of 26th Street and 27th Avenue -- and bought the cheapest faucet they had in the brand recommended by the plumber. This was not, as it turned out, the optimal faucet for the various uses to which it is put, and in my frenzy I had failed to inquire about these. Raphael had assumed that I would get the same kind as the one that had broken, but I had taken against it because it did break, and also because it was rather vehement for the size of the sink and tended to get water on the floor. However, we are waiting to see how it will work out. I do recommend Park Supply, though; they apparently have All the Faucets and are very nice people.

Raphael, now up and ready to face the day, came out and collected me and the faucet and took us home, then departed on errands; and I called the plumber, who had expressed a strong disinclination to begin work after three and then get caught in before-Christmas traffic. We were perilously near his deadline, but he was no longer in his comfortable office, but finishing up another job nearby, and decided he'd rather do the work that day than the next. So he came out and installed the new faucet, observing to me that "that faucet you picked out" -- a very optimistic view of what had happened -- did not have a pop-up assembly. I did not see why any faucet should have a pop-up assembly, until he explained that it was a part of the drain that comes with most faucets and enables one to raise and lower the stopper by means of a lever attached to the faucet. I did not expostulate about how he had told me a brand, not explained that faucets usually BUT NOT ALWAYS come with drain assemblies and parts that sound like entertainment for small children. In any case, he had a standard drain assembly in his truck that he installed, and we have the stopper from that, which works fine; you just have to pry it up with your fingers when you want to empty the basin, and we almost never fill it up in the first place.

The plumber takes cash or checks only, so I wrote him one. Then I started looking for a squirrel whisperer. I got an email from Angie's List at about that time reminding me that Angie's List is now free, so I joined it and looked for squirrel whisperers, or Wildlife Exclusion and Control experts, as they are formally called. I found a guy who sounded perfect. He answered his phone at once but told me he wasn't working at present because he was laid up with a bad knee. He asked where I lived and recommended the pleasingly-named Beast Wildlife, which is in South Minneapolis. I called them and left a message. It was now December 23rd, so I was not unbearably surprised not to hear back. On Boxing Day I did get a call back, followed very shortly by a pleasant and mellow young man named Keith, who referred to going up into the attic as "entering the abyss." He confirmed the presence of squirrels and set up some traps, and a trail camera that would text him when it noticed movement, and would email him photos of what was going on. I think this is extremely cool. Thus far he has removed four squirrels in traps and noticed a dead one that he will try to remove once the live ones are out. Over the past weekend he took the traps away but left the camera and some bait, and on Monday he came back with another trap, because there was yet another squirrel. I expected to hear from him today that it was in the trap, but it must be cannier than the other ones.

Keith also noticed that a vent in the roof was missing its roof boot, leaving a back door for the squirrels, as it were; and recommended that we get a roofer to deal with that. I called one, again from Angie's List, and they came out early the following morning, examined the situation, and emailed me an estimate, and were calling by ten a.m. to ask if I wanted them to do the work or not. I did, so they came out and put a thing like a gigantic thermos on the roof vent. They didn't stay to be paid and apparently take credit cards, which is just as well, because the squirrel whisperers only take cash or checks.

Sometime while all this was going on, the heater for David's waterbed died. We had a discussion in which he said that in the long run he wanted to switch back to a regular bed, but didn't want to rush into it, so he ordered a new heater. Yesterday he went to drain the waterbed so that he could extract the old heater and install the new one, but had to stop the process because the basement floor drain was backing up. This meant no running the dishwashers or doing laundry, and threw into doubt whether it would be a good idea to take any showers in the morning. I had various horrible visions of terrible failures and hideous amounts of money. David, now recovered, took care of calling drain people, and they found that the issue was actually some kind of blockage in the laundry line. We have had this issue before, and may need to change the lint trap on the washer more regularly. In any case, the charge for that was moderate enough that David just wrote them a check.

I sincerely hope that nothing else will break any time soon.

Pamela

I think the default footer that will appear on the LJ version of this post says to comment on DW, but it's fine with me if you comment on LJ. If the comments turn out to be disabled, I'll have to fix that.

ETA: Okay, that didn't work, trying again.

I just cut and pasted this manually, but I think I know what I messed up, so maybe next time it will all go smoothly.
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
So last year I blogged at length about a multi-day struggle with the MNSure website, hours spent on hold, and the kindness of the customer and tech support people when one finally got to them.

This year was much easier, but not without minor drama. I got through the application for financial assistance in one go and was promptly informed that we were eligible for a monthly subsidy. Then I went and looked at the plans. I knew that premiums had gone up, but hadn't really assimilated that plans had started to go floppy and were weird and difficult. I ignored co-insurance last year and just got a plan with co-pays and a reasonable deductible. This was through UCare, but unfortunately, I couldn't just renew that plan, because my clinic and pharmacy are no longer among their providers. Next year I might rethink this, but this year I simply refuse to change my clinic because a bunch of revolting corporations are trying to squeeze every penny out of what should be considered a public good rather than a business opportunity.

I spent about eight hours on the computer Friday; the application took less than half an hour, so the rest was expended comparing plans til my eyes started going around in my head, with pauses to rant at whoever happened to come by, whether in person or in email. It's just insane that a plan rated Gold that costs, before subsidies. more than a thousand dollars a month, should have 40% coinsurance. The deductibles are crazy too. I am also very, very tired of being required to predict the future, which is impossible for self-employed people with a patchwork of income, and then sternly warned that there are penalties for not telling the truth. There is no truth! It hasn't happened yet!

I finally, reluctantly, settled on a sucky plan for a price that made my heart sink but that didn't seem completely insane. It's twice what we were paying last year, after the subsidy. I told the website that I wanted to enroll in the plan. I got a rather plaintive page that said that something had gone wrong. I signed out and logged in again, and ended up in the same place I had landed last year: my application was listed as pending and there was no way out of the page where that information was; and yet, since I already had a completed application, there was also no other path to enrollment.

I decided to give them the weekend and see if things settled. In the meantime, for the second time this year, our main landline number died on us. In August this precipitated a nightmare in which CenturyLink was understaffed and couldn't send a technician for a week. When he got there, he didn't fix anything, and they'd given him a wrong version of my cell phone number, so he didn't call either. He also didn't ring the doorbell; he just left, and the website then informed us that our problem had been resolved. That eventually got dealt with by Raphael's explaining the situation in chat with tech support in a way that I don't have the personality to support. The tech people, abashed by Raphael, got hold of the local office manager, and she called and said that somebody would be out about two days later. This person had the right number and was reasonably competent. He said the line from the cross street was bad, and he fixed it. He got a bit muddled over the legacy wiring in the outside box, but David fixed that quite quickly.

This time, I got on the website to request a repair ticket, but they were having technical difficulties. I had to make an appointment in chat; to my relief, it was for two days hence rather than the next week. It was already dark when Raphael informed me that the landline was out, so in the morning I dutifully went out with a telephone and checked for dial tones. We have two lines but only give out one number, and the one everybody knew to call, naturally, was the one that had died on us. There were two dial tones, though one was scratchy. I went in and informed David of this situation, and he told me to cancel the repair appointment, since one will be charged $95 if CenturyLink comes out and discovers that the problem is not with their side of the divide. Over the weekend, while grading finals for the course he taught this semester and going to several parties, David took apart the inside wiring and traced the deadness of the line back to the wall. On Sunday morning he went outside and checked for dial tones. There was now just one. I got on the CenturyLink website, which was working now, and made a repair appointment for this morning, with a 10:15 am to 2:15 pm window. This is a little early for me, but I could manage it.

At 8:51 this morning, my cell phone rang. It was the technician; he was on his way. I lay down for a moment and suddenly the doorbell was ringing and the technician was here. He didn't, as it turned out, need me for anything, but I got dressed blearily, without showering, and went out just in case. Then I went back to bed in my clothes. Then I got up and fed the cats, since they were puzzled and excited by my having dressed and gone downstairs but not fed them. After they ate Saffron came and purred and snuggled with me, but several times the technician's equipment made warbling noises that she interpreted as possible prey outside the window; he also made some banging noises that required her to rush to the window, treading heavily on my stomach as she went. I did sleep for a bit eventually, waking at more or less my usual time at 11:30.

I picked up the phone in my office and checked to see if things were back to normal. One dial tone. After a brief period of despair, I went and asked David if he'd had time to put everything back together yet, and he hadn't. When he did, it all worked fine.

Buoyed up by this news and by a very large cup of tea, I checked the status of my application in its little cul-de-sac -- still Pending, still immured -- and called MNSure customer service. I got through to them handily, but after poking around, the nice lady decided that I needed tech support. This involved being on hold for about an hour and a half. They have the same music as last year, but have varied it with little skits where people fall and hurt themselves but won't let anybody call an ambulance because they don't have health insurance; or they go to the ER but leave because they can't afford treatment and maybe it will heal on its own. I sympathize with these, but the repetition is a bit wearing.

Eventually I got another pleasant, if somewhat brisker, woman who fixed my application in less than fifteen minutes. My application was no longer in a dead end. There was now a link to enroll in health care plans. Before I did, I double-checked that UCare, HealthPartners, and Blue-All-the-Things don't list my clinic and pharmacy. Then I double-checked all the Medica plans (they are plentiful as blackberries). I found another network that included my clinic as other than a chiropractic specialty, but the plans weren't really any better and my eyes were starting to go around again, so I just chose what I hoped was the best plan for our circumstances insofar as we even know what those are, and closed the deal.

This is still better than no health insurance. It's just stupidly worse than giving everybody decent health care and having done with all this nonsense.

Pamela

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