January 3rd, 2014

#4082: I don't have to dig

Snowblower FTW.

Got up at 11 because of hydraulic pressure, spent a little time looking at the Intartubz, then hied myself to the driveway. The snowblower started on the first pull and I took care of the global warming laying all over the driveway, then cleaned off my wife's car and adjusted the tire pressure on same.

As I was gearing up to go outside I realized that I haven't worn my other winter coat since first donning the parka in February 2011. I suppose I might as well donate the damned thing and be rid of it; I certainly don't use it any more and when I have car work to do in cold weather I put on my old down coat, because it's jacket-length and easy to move in.

Looks like we're getting a little break in the snow, though it's predicted that we may get snow again tomorrow and Sunday. Whee!

This has been an unusually snowy month. Last year we didn't get any significant snow until March and it all dropped in one go; otherwise the winter was pretty mild. This year, however--

In other words, "Guess what: it's winter, and there's weather outside. Get used to it."

* * *

People are unhappy that they got what they voted for. They're unhappy over Obamacare because it's not what was promised, because they foolishly thought that Obama meant what he said when he was talking about keeping your doctor and all that.

"An X-ray," Karl Denninger says, emphasis removed, "shouldn't cost more than $50." Although he doesn't say I do believe he is talking about the actual taking of the x-ray, not the interpretation of it by a radiologist. I would expect the whole package not to come to more than $100 all told, considering that a radiologist is not going to spend more than ten minutes examining the x-ray unless there's something serious going on. Maybe 15 if you include dictating notes for the chart.

But it has been so long since people had to pay out of pocket for their own medical care that no one sees the bill until after it's churned through the insurance mill, and there is absolutely no incentive for a person to comparison shop for medical services--nor any method by which one can. Why would you care about the bill if you don't have to pony up the cash? You let the doctor and the insurance company thrash it out, and six months later get a bill for $94.43 that you pay without remembering what the hell it was for.

...which is why we're now at the point where a clinic can charge $500 for a technician making $18 an hour to take three large-format images of your chest using an x-ray camera, a procedure taking less than fifteen minutes. They start high for a couple reasons: it gives them room to dicker with the insurance companies...and when someone actually pays the full freight, it's almost pure profit.

(Especially if they use one of those fancy x-ray machines with a CCD sensor rather than actual film. CD-R disks are perhaps $0.01 in bulk, where celluloid costs real money.)

The reality of high deductibles has been apparent to me for more than a decade. Buying your own health insurance will do that; I've long been at the point where I had, effectively, a catastrophic plan, and I can't remember the last time I had health insurance with a deductible that was under $1,000. (Was it 2003? That long ago?) But Obamacare is forcing nearly everyone into that regime, and it's starting to cause serious sticker shock.

My answer is simply to remind people: "Be careful what you wish for; you might get it."

* * *

Man, what a lovely winter day it is...precisely because I don't have to go out in it.

But I do, in fact, since we need cat litter and a couple of other sundries. Well, that'll be a short trip, and while I'm at it I should buy a couple of furnace filters. Where's my memo pad? I need to make a list....

#4083: Get out your long underwear.

It's going to be cold on Monday.

How cold?

Local forecast said the high temperature--the high temperature!--will be minus eleven degrees.

Damn it, that global warming sure is getting bad!

* * *

This afternoon, I took the turkey carcass out of the fridge and put it on the stove in a pot of water. It has been simmering now for nearly six hours, and is rapidly turning into turkey broth. I'll turn the stove off before bed and let it cool overnight; tomorrow I'll strain out the meat and bones (and make turkey salad again like last year) and boil down the broth to make turkey stock, which will then get frozen.

I think for Monday, though, I'll make a big pot of ham and bean soup using the hambone left over from the ham Mrs. Fungus bought in early November. That means I'll need to soak the beans and buy a loaf of ginzo bread on Sunday, but that's okay.

* * *

Why the hell are furnace filters so expensive? Did you realize you can spend $10 on a filter without half trying? I bought the cheap ones because I don't need super-allergen-filter nonsense. I just need something that'll keep as much dirt as possible out of the blower. I got two and managed to get out of the hardware store for less than $5, but it was a near thing; the next cheapest filters were $5 each.

According to Lennox (the manufacturer) you're supposed to change the filters every month; when I lived in Cedar Rapids the management of the apartment complex changed 'em every six months. I feel sorry for people who think they have to get the $20 filters and change them all the time. "Little Bobby's got asthma! I don't want him catching hay fever too!" *rolleyes*

But I haven't changed this one for a year or more.

Anyway, that's another annoying little chore dealt with. It took me about two minutes actually to change the filter, and most of that time was consumed with getting the old one out. It's a lot better than the old furnace, which required that you measure and cut a swatch of fiberglas matting and fit it to an armature that secured it in the blower intake. It had plenty of surface area but it was a royal pain to change that filter.

I'm going to aim for changing them every three months; this is a rather dusty shack and the return ducts have never been cleaned, and at $2 a pop I think I can do it without breaking the bank.

Could be worse, I suppose.

* * *

Well, time to take care of a few other chores.