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August 2007

Written By: Gary on August 30, 2007 One Comment

This is really more about health costs, not my problems. As far as I know I’m fine, but they’ve been trying to diagnose a minor problem (although I guess I’m not qualified to say it’s “minor”) so don’t worry…

This is the story – I’m finally getting copies of the insurance bills for a big test (had to be unconscious for the test, I think that’s the only reason it was in the hospital) and so far they total up to about $3,300! and I haven’t paid a penny. Please note that this doesn’t even include my initial visit to my doctor and the two visits to the specialist (which all included tests) and each of the visits each included a prescription or two (I’ve probably paid less than $75 for all that). That’s a lot of money, and if I didn’t have insurance I’d be happy to spend money on getting better but so far I don’t think anything has helped (maybe I’m a little better since this started in late April but I might just be getting used to it or maybe I’d just be getting better anyways) and I don’t think the tests dound anything. I’m sure the costs would be a bit less if I were paying for it out my own pocket, but still…I can’t imagine not having great insurance let alone not having insurance at all. We’ve got great unions in Michigan and probably even more so in the Detroit area so that’s always benefitted me (medical and dental benefits). I just can’t imagine not having it. I’ve always been very fortunate with having great health insurance and they very few times I haven’t, I’ve not had to really use it.

I don’t know the solution for health in this country but I think we need to concentrate more of the USofA resources on health. People should be able to count on good health, education and food; I think these items qualify for the whole “life, liberty and happiness” thing (I’ll clarify these points if I ever run for office).

Speaking of insurance for everyone, in Michigan we’ve got a pretty decent Children’s Health Insurance program called MiChild for only $10 a month for your child. You have to be a low income family and I’m not sure what the requirement/formula is but I thought I’d mention it since I was mentioning insurance (I guess it’s only good if you actually qualify). If you have kids and no insurance in Michigan please check out this program and apply for your kids. They have a dental program that can be signed up for too.

I guess I really don’t have much else to say other than I’m very fortunate in this case and very thankful for great insurance (and thankful it’s not a bigger problem). It’s not that I want them to find something wrong, it’s just that if there is something wrong I want them to find it sooner.

I haven’t had the follow-up yet (in a few weeks), so I don’t have a diagnosis yet, but I’m thinking if they found something from the tests or the biopsy they’d have gotten me in sooner (or called me). So I’m assuming they’ll be no diagnosis, I’m guessing they’ll try more drugs and if that doesn’t help, maybe another similar test (yuk!) later…

Disclaimer: I’m sure at some point in the future insurance companies will be googling for pre-existing conditions on the ‘net. So I almost didn’t write this post. For the future googlers, to set the record straight, I confess that my problem is there is a banana growing out of my forehead, so if you are looking to insure me in the future and there is no banana that means I’m cured(!) and there is nothing preexisting…

Written By: Gary on August 29, 2007 3 Comments

So I started the story the other day about how my bicycle was ripped from the back of my car. This was the first really nice bicycle that I ever purchased for myself, I’m thinking it was just under $400. Generally, I just purchased $99 bikes but I was having a hard time finding tires that weren’t mountain bike (extra wide) size and I didn’t want to get the really thin tires. Plus I was at a point when I knew I’d always be able to keep the bike indoors to take care of it (and I wanted something a little nicer). The weird thing is I just commented several times over the last few months about how much I loved the bike and my bike rack (just slides into the trailer hitch and it’s so easy and sturdy).

But back to the middle of the story –I was stressing about this a lot this weekend (mostly the beginning and the end, I was too busy having fun in the middle), I’d probably have stressed less if I had totaled the car but it’s the figuring out of the replacing and trying to get reimbursed for the bike and rack. But I was extra annoyed in that the reason I drove my car was specifically to have my bike, it would have been much easier and cheaper to take the train. Little did I know I’d have nothing to worry about, they called me back first thing Monday morning and I stopped by the shop and they wrote me a check to cover the bike (and the $90 in repairs I’d already done) based on the estimate. I said I’d get the rack since I might actually might be able to get replacement parts for it. They probably would have covered more if I had asked but I thought it was fair since I was getting a new bike out of the deal (even though I wasn’t even considering it beforehand).

My day got much better better after that and I wished I had never worried about it, it was just a bike. No one was hurt and life was good. So on the way home I stopped at a few bike shops and fell in love with a shiny red Trek 7300, it rode so smooth I couldn’t believe it, I thought someone was pushing me along. It was a little more expensive than I was going to spend but if I can find it around home, it’s mine sometime this week. The problem might be is that I think it was last years model and I might not find the same color.

FYI, the end of the story will be when I get a bike :)

Written By: Gary on August 29, 2007 2 Comments

So I’m not a big fan of team sports, I go here and there if it’s a group (or I get free tickets) but it’s just never been my thing. Maybe it’s just because there is too much waiting, in line to get in, in the parking lot, between time outs, etc. But I’ve always liked numbers and I really liked the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game so maybe that’s why I got a message sent to me.

The message looked like it was directed to me, it might have just been well formed spam (but there appear to be no ads). But I liked the graphics and stats on “your team’s chance of making the playoffs” so I’m linking to the Detroit Tigers page at Sport Club Stats. They’ve got all sorts of teams and leagues and sports so check it out. Be sure to click out the enlarged graphs/charts too.

Written By: Gary on August 26, 2007 No Comment

Poster 1-18-08I’m still thinking it’s some kind of Godzilla movie. I mean just look at the poster and tell me that it wouldn’t make sense to add him to the image.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s refencing the 1-18-08 movie.

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Written By: Gary on August 26, 2007 3 Comments

So the bloggers met in Chicago again for DaveCago2, about half of us met early June 2006 and we had a bunch of new people too (but we were down a few too). Here’s the “blog roll call” that I’m pleasec to be a part of – Dave, Kevin, Jenny, RW and Mrs. RW, Ariana, Ajooja, Birdcolor, Diane, Kilax (who hand codes her blog!!!) and me. Several brought spouses (or spouses-to-be), it easier to not mention who than to remember who blogs (or doesn’t blog) their private life. I hope I didn’t leave anyone out, it was so hard to keep track of everyone…

Dave made us lanyards and had buttons and shirts and it made me feel like it was Christmas, I’m just happy with meeting new people. We ate at Pizano’s Pizza on The Loop (near Millennium Park) and we got a bunch of different pizza and lots of (different) drinks. Then we wandered around and found another place for more drinks (Congress Plaza Hotel, the Gazebo Ba I thinkr), that too a while since most places didn’t have space for all of us. It was great to put a face and voice to some of the bloggers and just chat and get more info on stories we’ve heard and stuff like that.Neither restaurant or bar had drinks like Mike’s Hard Lemonade or Smirnoff Ice and I was way above my daily caffine limit, so I hard to drink Long Island Iced Tea, it was my only option (really).

I do have photos, but I’ll have to get them up later. I’ve been running around all day and I’m too tired to take a chance at accidentally deleting photos.

Written By: Gary on August 26, 2007 2 Comments

Once I got into Chicago yesterday everything went completely smooth. I got food, I got checked into my hotel immediately, showered and managed to hook up with Kevin and Dave and we went over to that Apple Store to check out some eye candy (iCandy, get it?!?) and wandered around a bit before meeting up with the bigger group later. I had a blast with all of them and I’ll expand on that later, but I’m checking out of the hotel and I thought ager my other problem post the last few days I’d mention that all is well.

And today I feel a whole lot better than I thought I would after all the Long Island Iced Teas, so that’s a bonus too…

Written By: Gary on August 25, 2007 No Comment

So I made it to Chicago, even with the traffic reports not helping me any (actually I had two ways to go and choose the one that I hadn’t heard any numbers mentioned so maybe it did help). The weather is awesome right now and looks like it will be great.

SRO_ChicagoOn the way in, I was starving and I headed straight for Standing Room Only to get some ribs. It was the last meal I had the last time in Chicago and they were delicious, so I made it my first meal this time around. Google maps on my phone helped me get here, I sure wish it had GPS to figure out where I am so that when I want directions and I’m don’t have an exact location that it could figure it out for me!

I think I might take a short walk, and then go check in. I’ve got to get this car into the hotel parking so I don’t need to deal with driving/parking any more today, then I’ll see if I can hook up early with some of the people I’m meeting later on. I had planned on being in town hours and hours ago but yesterdays delays resulted in my not getting enough sleep and flooding delays encouraged me to do some shopping in Michigan City before getting too close to Chicago in hopes flooding would die down..

Written By: Gary on August 25, 2007 No Comment

I’ve gotten used to listening to traffic at home (Detroit area) and I understand when they talk about areas in general, but I’ve noticed when traveling other cities it’s way to hard decipher it. I’m traveling into Chicago right now, and while I can get around okay, the traffic reports are just gobbly-gook since I don’t know all the roads and traffic slang….

This is a problem today since there appears to still be lots of flooding from the last few days of storms. It’s beautiful right now though!!! Can’t wait to get there!

Written By: Gary on August 24, 2007 2 Comments

So I’m on my way to Chicago to see a variety of bloggers (to see who, follow the updates over the next few days) and I stop in Kalamazoo (Michigan) for some gas. After I get off the highway, I’m driving along and the truck in front of me swerves and I see a tire hurtling towards my car. I swerved but it managed to clip my bicycle (which is on the back of the car) and and rip it off the rack and drag the bike for a little bit before I’m able to pull over.

It does turn out there is a Jeep minus a tire that I didn’t notice during my swerving, turns out it was out on a test drive from an auto repair shop. They said to bring them the bill for fixing the bicycle and the rack. They sent me to a local bike repair shop and the end result is they’ve done $90 in repairs and then decided that I should get the bike replaced and it’s 3 hours later and I’m still in K’zoo. Everyone is closed now, and the repair shop is closed for the weekend and I didn’t think to get a home number.

Arrgh!!!! Why do accidents happen on the way to places and not on the way home? Of course it could have been way worse but the point was I’m bringing the bike to Chicago for the purpose of biking. I would have taken the train otherwise, I love the train, the station is a mile from my house and I don’t have to worry about traffic or paying for parking, etc.

On a side note I’m in Bennigan’s right now, who has free WiFi (always a bonus) which I’ll keep in mind for the future, eating their delicious Guinness Glazed Chicken Stir Fry. Yummy food and the ability to access the ‘net always helps!

This was supposed to be a nice relaxing weekend and now I’m pretty cranky and stressed now. And did I mention that that I’m three hours behind schedule now? I’ll be better tomorrow, I’m just venting for now and telling you about the exciting part of my day. Now to decide how much further I should drive tonight…

Written By: Gary on August 24, 2007 No Comment

So I spent some time on Drummond Island (in Michigan just off the east side of the upper peninsula) a few weeks ago. You can see a better perspective of where this is by checking out this map. Note the solid line that zig-zags around it, that’s the Canadian international border. You have to take a ferry (from DeTour on the Michigan Upper Peninsula side) to get over to the island, it was great both times, didn’t have to wait for the next ferry (only once and hour) although we just made the ferry and I had to part at a 45 degree angle to fit! But at least I didn’t have to wait an extra hour. Since there is only one ferry you only have to pay to go there, there ride back is free.

Drummond-DetourI’ve been there before but only when it was very cold. It was beautiful weather the whole time, it was great to bicycle around. The stars were so clear and I had an excellent view of the Perseids Meteor shower.

The internet access was lacking though. They offer hi-speed free wireless at the chamber of commerce but the DSL was down for the whole weekend, , I was starting to get the shakes!!! FYI, the Chamber of Commerce is kind of the Visitor’s Center and is located at “The Four Corners”, everyone knows that’s the intersection with both the blinking red-light and a stop sign :)NorthwoodbarPlus, while I was there I got to hang out at the Northwood which is where everyone hangs out in all the Jill Traynor Mystery books. I had actually started re-reading New America (Book 4) while I was on the island.

So it’s a very relaxed atmosphere there, which is good as long as you want to relax. That’s all that I wanted to do so it was perfect, well, except for the internet being broken that was a problem for me (they did fix it sometime the morning I left) but not so much for most people….

Written By: Gary on August 22, 2007 No Comment

Yesterday, I commented on how I haven’t heard much about Neil Gaiman being tied to the Stardust Movie even though he wrote the book. And I think that’s strange. Here’s something stranger, but shows you his diversity in projects: This album, called “Where’s Neil When You Need Him?“, has 17 songs about his stories by a bunch of different artists (including Tori Amos). Here’s the description on Amazon –

A unique collaboration between a collection of talented musicians and a best-selling author. Seventeen top international acts offer 17 exclusive songs inspired by the diverse work of Neil Gaiman. Includes a lavish 20 page booklet with extensive liner notes from Neil Gaiman about the project and each of the songs and an assortment of all new artwork from Dave McKean, as well as a foreword by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance. The songs on this disc are inspired by Gaiman stories including Coraline, American Gods, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, Stardust, The Goldfish Pool, Sandman, The Wolves in the Walls, Mr. Punch, Mirror Mask and Neverwhere.

Seriously, who ends up with something like that?!? How is he not getting more recognition on this?

His stuff is kinda complicated and you’ve really got to pay attention, so don’t be afraid to start with the kid books, they’ve got all the cool art by Dave McKean too!

Written By: Gary on August 22, 2007 No Comment

I just finally got around to watching some David Letterman and Conan O”Brian episodes, I grab them if they have a guest I like and coincidentally Anne Hathaway was on the two I picked in the TiVo. She’s always fun (she was the one who made The Princess Diaries so fun) and has such an awesome smile in just about everything (movie or interview) that I’ve seen her in. She’s currently in Becoming Jane playing Jane Austin which I think is now on my list that I’ve seen a few more clips on it. She’s also in the new Get Smart film playing Barbara Feldman’s role as Agent 99.

I usually think of her as beautiful but she was way more than that on Letterman (the stunning dress probably helped), Dave even asked her where she was going after the show, since she was clearly too much for his show (“It’s just for you Dave”). Here’s the clip.

Usually on these interviews I never notice the guest drink out of the glass in front of them, but on both Letterman and Conan I noticed drinking out of her mug all the time. I’m not sure why that’s sticking with me so much but it really keeps popping back into my head.

I think I’m off to see Becoming Jane this week…

Written By: Gary on August 22, 2007 2 Comments

Mt4So Movable Type 4.0 is out. I thought it was odd that you can’t purchase a personal license any more, just a business one. Don’t panic though, you can still get a personal license for free but purchasing it used to get you “official” support and (it looks like) that’s not available. But I was mistaken, for $49 you can get a year of support(see Anil’s comment below) you just have to buy it from the business page. I really don’t think I ever used the support (or at least not very often) so not a huge deal, but I think it’s odd that it’s hard to realize that you can buy support you just have to go to the business page. And I still think it’s weird it’s cheaper to buy two 5 user licenses than one 10 user license.

Plus, come fall they plan to release some kind of OpenSource version this fall, which will be very interesting…On a side note, while I love Movable Type and I’d love to upgrade, I’ll have to wait for the 4.1 release, I keep my installation too complicated and installing always brings the bugs to light (old plug-ins that break, bugs that I used to my advantage that might be fixed, and obviously the possibility of new bugs) I’ll wait for the revisions so it’s one less thing to worry about. Plus, I’m really afraid MT-Blacklist will stop working; it still deletes hundreds of messages a day for me with no intervention (since May of 2005 it’s deleted way over one-third of a million billion spam messages that I’ve not even had to glance at) that with SpamLookUp keeps me sane.

Although, I must point out, everyone on-line seems to be saying that MT 4.0 is pretty painless to install…

Written By: Gary on August 21, 2007 One Comment

So I’ve been excited since I originally saw the preview for Stardust a few months ago and I got to see a preview of the movie a few weeks ago (the movie is out now). I really enjoyed the movie and the cast was great (Claire Danes, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Charlie Cox). They didn’t follow the book exactly and I have no problem with that, I’m re-reading the book and I’m finding that I really enjoy it after just seeing the movie.

I really like Neil Gaiman but I really haven’t seen them promoting him much in relation to the book and the movie; the book came out about 10 years ago as both a regular book and as a graphic novel (illustrated by Charles Vess). And I’ve seen this book in so many variations of the cover not even including the movie editions or the graphic novels…

Claire Danes as the falling star was wonderful, technically she was a fallen star but that sounds like it has a negative connotations and she didn’t have any. From the previews I wasn’t sure how Claire would be in the part (I eel they edited the preview oddly) but I thought she was perfect. DeNiro played a different part than I expected from the previews; I guess it was a different role than I’ve ever seen him in before. Charlie Cox was great, I’m not sure where I’ve seen him before.

Written By: Gary on August 21, 2007 One Comment

Hint – It’s an anagram. And it’s cute (and geeky), so don’t watch it if that doesn’t appeal to you…

My worry would be what if you didn’t get the answer you wanted…“Serge Gandaora”, the make believe artist, is actually another anagram – “George and Sara”

Written By: Gary on August 20, 2007 No Comment

Smithsonian Magazine’s site has an article on a theory on How the Egyptians built the Great Pyramid at Giza. Pyramidsmithsonian

Tackling an ages-old puzzle, a French architect offers a new theory on how the Egyptians built the Great Pyramid at Giza

I think this is from the August 2007 issue, but it might just be only on their web site.

Written By: Gary on August 19, 2007 One Comment

10Gb.MacI’ve mentioned Apple’s .Mac service before and I really like it. Apple has expanded their .Mac on-line backup/syncing to 10GB (from 1 GB). Apple has always been behind the curve in how much storage space for the cost ($99 a year) but they’ve made up for it. With the increased storage it really makes the family plan more practical and affordable too.

 .macIf you have a Macintosh, you’ll love this (especially if you have a laptop or more than one Mac). It’s a remote backup / synchronization / file sharing / training / web publishing software service rolled all-in-one! The biggest feature to me is that if you use your iDisk for all your documents, the next time you connect to the internet it seamlessly synchronizes this document to the server & all your other Macs and you can access the files from any web browser on any platform (it also keeps a copy of all your documents on your hard drive so you can see them if you aren’t on-line). It also synchronizes your bookmarks, e-mail, calendar, contacts data/settings across all your Macs. So if I drop my laptop (or have it stolen), I don’t lose any of my data (as long I’ve been on the internet recently).

With the extra storage I can save all my purchased iTunes to to my .Mac Music folder and it’ll be on all my computers and I don’t need to make a copy until I have a DVD’s worth of music. The same goes for my photos, I’m always worried about losing my irreplaceable photos.

For regular documents, you’ll never notice that it’s biggest downside, it’s slow. But if you drag a bunch of huge files in there it’ll take a while, but since it’s seamless you’ll probably never notice, if it doesn’t have enough time, it’ll just continue the next time you’re on the ‘net!Banner To get more info you have to read my earlier post (I’m already repeating myself from that one).

Written By: Gary on August 15, 2007 2 Comments

So Justine from TastyBlogSnack.com got her detailed phone bill from AT&T for her new iPhone. They have detailed billing and she had about 30,000 text messages last month. It cost them $7.12 to mail her the bill in a box.

Insane that her bill is that long, but it’s also insane that iJustine does a 1,000 messages a day! Of course she has the unlimited plan!

I’ve never imbedded from “revver” before, in case it doesn’t work here’s the YouTube link and here’s her original post about it. I heard her talking about it on MacBreak Weekly #53 with Leo LaPorte today (but I had no idea she was SO cute)…

Written By: Gary on August 14, 2007 No Comment

AfinefrezyfreeitunesWhen Brandi Carlile is in Detroit (October 14, 2007) she’ll be playing with A Fine Frenzy. I’m not really familiar with them but their You Picked Me is the Free iTunes song of the week this week (until August 20, 2007) so check them out. The free song is and I like it the few times I’ve tried it so give it a free download! And if you turn on iTunes Plus it looks like it comes without DRM copy-protection so (maybe?) you can put it on some other music players. Actually, most of their music at iTunes is DRM-free and inexpensive ($7.99 for a fourteen track album or $1.99 for a three song EP) when you consider the higher quality DRM free versions are $1.29 a song.

The 10/14 concert is general admission ($20) and it’s a a great venue (my second favorite in the Detroit area). Let me know if you’re going to the Detroit concert so we can say “HI!”

Written By: Gary on August 14, 2007 One Comment

So I’ve been all over the place lately. Geographically and just a lot of stuff going on (all things are good). I’ve been up north, done a variety of odd things to my car, seen movies, been reading, found some good sites and I’ve got a whole lot of “stuff” to blog about. I’ve got lots of photos too. I’ve also had a bit Internet connectivity withdrawal, I’ve either been too busy to surf or on a island (literally) but I’m all better now…

I just need a little down town to catch up with it. Hopefully in the next day or so (or at least by the weekend) I’ll get caught up.

Written By: Gary on August 4, 2007 No Comment

So I only ask y’all for a favor about once a year (maybe twice). This one is to take a listen to the wonderful Courtney Robb sing and then vote for her. (Thank you!)

Listen here – http://www.myspace.com/courtneyr
And vote here – http://www.myspace.com/local_long_distance VOTING IS OVER
You do not need a MySpace account to vote.

Actually, it’s just the second step that’s the favor. The first step is if only you want to make an informed decision, but I’m telling you she’s great! It’s the first voting poll on the left, it’s about one screen/page down (just below “the fold”) and I had a little problem hitting the “vote” button with “Safari” so you might need to try Firefox.

CourtneyrobbCourtney was on their radio show and having people return to be on a “listener’s choice” show and if she gets enough votes, she gets to come back.

She writes her own stuff and has a sound kinda like Anna Nalick, Jewel, Avril Lavigne, Aimee Mann and all that kind of acoustic/earthy music that I love.

And once you decide you like her, go see a show if you’re in the Detroit area (all around the Detroit, Royal Oak, Mt. Clemens, Allen Park, Redford area), she’s great!

* Full disclosure – She’s my niece, but that’s not why I’m helping to get get votes, it’s because she’s excellent is why I’m encouraging you to vote.

Update – VOTING IS CLOSED and Courtney was way ahead the last few times I looked so if you listened and voted, Thanks!!

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