Category Archives: Society

Easter… Big Deal? Yes.

I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”  – Charles Colson

Today, Christians celebrate Christ’s resurrection signaling His victory over sin and death.

Christianity is actually very, very simple and it all starts with one question:  “Do you consider yourself a good person?”

Most of us say, “Yes.  Of course, I’m a good person.”

 

But, you’re not.  Seriously.  You’ve lied.  You’ve cheated.  You’ve spread rumors about people, or participated in it.  You’ve hated.  You’ve deliberately hurt people… probably the ones who care the most about you.  You’ve been selfish and bitter.  You’ve been arrogant and condescending.

Yeah.  Me, too.

The basic foundation of Christianity is that you and I and everyone else who has ever lived and ever will live are people who do the best they can given the fact we carry wounds and scars from things we’ve experienced.  But, we still mess up.  A lot.

This is called “sin” which is a word that means “to miss the mark”.  Basically, we didn’t hit the target we were aiming at… or maybe we nailed the target, but should have been aiming somewhere else.

The Bible says that “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”   We’re all in that place… we’re all equally and firmly in the category of “sinner”.

Unfortunately, there’s a price for those mistakes… not only in our lives today, but when we face God after we die.  The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death…”.  Not a very comforting thought.

But, here’s where it gets interesting:  the Bible also says, “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Let’s say you’re in court.  You’ve committed some pretty bad crimes and you’re sentenced to life in prison or pay millions of dollars in reparations.

Let’s say this guy steps forward.  A guy who has never done anything wrong in his entire life.  And he looks at the judge and says, “Your honor.  You know me.  You know I’ve never committed a crime in my life.  But this person here is my friend and I love her dearly like I would love my own sister.  I’ve got a check here that will cover what you’ve ordered her to pay.  If there’s jail time involved, I’ll do that for her, too.”

This is what Jesus did.  He stepped forward, looked God in the eye and said, “Dad, you’re right, of course.  He did do those things.  He did act like that.  But, he’s a friend of mine and I love him.   Even though he did those things, and I’ve never done them, I’m willing to take the blame for what he did and suffer the consequences that should have been his.”

Most people have embraced perceptions about Christianity that simply aren’t true.  Christianity is not about judging others; it’s about loving others.  Christianity is not about abstaining from sin; it’s about being freed from sin.  Christianity is not about pretending to be perfect; it’s about accepting the fact that we’re not.

In essence, Christianity is understanding the I’m equally guilty of my sin as everyone else is of theirs.  It’s understanding that because of this, I’m no better (or worse) than anyone else.  And, most importantly, it’s about understanding that God loves me enough that He’s willing not to overlook my sin – but to pay for it Himself.

When Christ died, he took on my sins and yours and accepted the punishment on our behalf.  When He rose again, He left those sins in the grave forever.  Now, we can live as God planned us to… free of sin and judgment, secure in knowing we were each loved enough to have God Himself stand in the gap and take our blame.

Pray that God would know your heart and that you truly believe you’ve sinned and want to accept Christ’s gift of taking those sins away from you.  Pray that He would forgive you of those sins.  Pray that you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died to for those sins.  Ask Jesus to be your Savior.  Ask Him to be your Lord.

Praise God, He is risen!

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The Affordable Care Act – Easy, Affordable Healthcare that is Difficult and Expensive, Part Four

“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”   – Douglas Adams

To my surprise, I found out my kids had married each other last week.  For some reason, this caused our application to be held up by the state.  Fortunately, we got that resolved, which allowed us to move on to:

Step Nine – Find Out You’re Not Your Daughter’s Father
My ex-wife was unfaithful several times.  However, I’ve never really questioned the parentage of my children.  There are just too many family resemblances.  So, you can imagine my shock when I called back (at this point, just assume I called the insurance company who then placed me on hold while they waited on hold for the state.  Each day I do this takes up 3-4 hours.) and found out that our application had been kicked up to the same mystery department because there was a problem with the information on it.  Fortunately, I found The Competent Employee at the state who actually was able to pull the information and do something about it.  I know what you’re thinking.  Yes, there is a competent employee who works in the state health care system.  Anyway, we found out that my step-son was actually my daughter’s father.

Me:  “Excuse me?”
Rep:  “It says here that he is her father.  That’s why it got held up.”
Me:  “Seriously, do you know how hard it is to be a 16 year old single father trying hard to raise your 16 year old daughter by yourself?  They should receive special consideration for that.  They shouldn’t be punished because of a tragic accident involving a condom and a time machine.*”

The rep got that fixed, so we just had to wait for the application to go through.

Step Ten – Discover Your Step-Son Makes More Money Than You
You’ll never guess, but when I called back, our application was once again in the PWAGTD (Place Where Applications Go To Die) Department.  This time, it was because my step-son made too much money for us to qualify for insurance.  Not bad for an unemployed 16 year old high school student.

Step Eleven – Really Get Approved… Sort of
It finally happened!  Our application was completed and approved!  The only problem now was the start date was a month later than it should have been!

Step Twelve – Give Up On Getting the Correct Start Date
When we started this process, we were within the deadline to have our insurance begin February 1st.  Of course, by the time we got done with this, we were past that deadline and our insurance was set to begin on March 1st.  I went back to the state and started the process of getting the starting date back-dated so anything that happened in February would be covered.  We had a couple of doctor’s visits during February, but nothing major (thank the Lord!) so it ended up not being a big deal.  I just gave up and let the insurance begin on March 1st.

There you have it, folks.  And some people said government healthcare was a bad idea.

*I shamelessly stole that line from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Affordable Care Act – Easy, Affordable Healthcare that is Difficult and Expensive, Part Three

“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”   – Douglas Adams

Last week, we ended with Step Five of the epic adventure which is today’s health care system.  Today, we pick up where we left off.

Step Six – Call Back and Wait Some More
I waited a few days and called back.  This time, I was actually able to get past the used-insurance sales team and talk to someone whose job was to actually help me get through the state’s health care system so I could get onto the private provider’s policy.  This lady was fantastic.  She took the information her company needed and then called the state and waited on hold with me until we could talk to someone there.  We were informed that the application was “pending” and there was nothing we could do except wait and call back the next day.  I started this process at 9:30AM and we finished the phone call around 4:00PM.

Step Seven – Repeat Step Six
This time, it only took about six hours to find out that there was a problem with my application.  Again, the insurance company representative (different person) stayed on the phone the whole time.  For some reason, the state was not releasing our application and it had been kicked up to a different department (for whom there is no contact information and to whom one cannot be transferred) for further review.  The person from the state told me the way to resolve this was to call the county health department.

Step Eight – Discover Your Children Married Each Other
Before I say anything else, the lady at the county was wonderful  I called her at 4:30PM on a Friday and she called me back that same evening at 6:30PM.  Her first question, of course, was, “Why would they have you call me?  It’s their problem.”  But, she logged onto her system and started reviewing the application.  There were, in fact, a few problems:

  1. My first name was misspelled
  2. My fiancée’s last name was misspelled
  3. My company’s name was misspelled
  4. My daughter’s birthday was wrong
  5. My future step-son’s last name was misspelled
  6. My income was wrong
  7. My daughter and future step-son were married… to each other

I’m not making that up.  They had my 16 year old daughter listed as married to my 16 year old future step-son.  For some reason, that took us out of the “normal family” category.

The next Monday, I called the insurance company to let them know the problem and we called the state.  When we got them on the line, I asked about that field on the application:

Me:  “Do you see on the application where it shows my daughter and step-son are married to each other?”
Rep:  “Yes.”
Me:  “Where the hell do you think we live?  Alabama*?”
Rep:  “Sir, you called the marketplace in Colorado, not Alabama.”
Me;  “Yes, I know that.”
Rep:  “So, you say there’s a problem with the information on your application?”

You know how you wish I were done with this story?  Believe me… so do I.

*I used Alabama because I have a friend who is a HUGE Tide fan.  Gig ’em, Truck!

The Affordable Care Act – Easy, Affordable Healthcare that is Difficult and Expensive, Part Two

“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”   – Douglas Adams

As I recounted last week, my journey into getting health insurance began easily enough and we left off with Step Two of the process – that feeling of mild euphoria one gets when one believes an affordable plan with good coverage has been found.  Fortunately, such silliness is short-lived, as we discover beginning with Step Three.

Step Three – Speak to the Provider’s Outsourced Sales Force from “Crazy Dave’s Discount Mattress Emporium”
I sent an email to the provider asking for more info and got a response back fairly quickly.  The sales rep called me and we discussed different plans.  When one thinks, “insurance agent”, the image that comes to mind is a guy in a dark suit with glasses.  This guy made me think of the guy on late night TV commercials who’s got “Deals so good, we’re just giving them away!”.  Seriously… he called me, “Bro”.

Step Four – (Finally) Speak to a Disgruntled Government Employee
Finally, Crazy Dave and I settled on something I could live with and that’s when I was told, “Okay.  So, now that we’ve got this process started, go ahead and apply with your state’s marketplace so your coverage can be denied.”

Really.

So, I called the number he gave me.  Each time I called, I had to sit through about three minutes of “To find the information you’re not looking for, please go to our website and… blah, blah, blah” speeches.  Finally, I was told “Our system is currently at maximum capacity.  Please call back later.”  And then it hung up on me.

I called again and listened to the three minutes of useless information, went through the 327 options in the menu and was transferred to a real live person who sat silently (I could hear the background noise, though) until I said, “Hello?” and then hung up on me.

The third call was the charm as after the three minute infomercial and menu maze, I was put on hold for a brief hour and a half before a real live person answered and began taking all of my information.  This process took about an hour and seemed to be pretty straightforward.  Sure enough, I was denied coverage and was able to go back to the insurance company and give them the good news.

Now, I was really at the point where I could get my coverage!

Step Five – Start Over… Then Don’t
I called Crazy Dave back to give him the good news and ended up speaking to Crazy Daphne (his business partner).  This is when I was cheerfully informed that they had no idea who I was and had no record of our previous conversation.  So, she offered to take me through the steps again to find the right plan for me.  I explained I had already selected a plan.  She couldn’t find my plan and didn’t know that they even had that plan.  I asked to speak to a supervisor who apparently had just walked in from lunch (in Bangalore) and had never been to the U.S before and wasn’t sure what insurance was.  Finally, they found a record of my call and told me that all I could do was wait for a few days and then call back.  Fortunately, this only took three hours.

The saga continues…

The Affordable Care Act – Easy, Affordable Healthcare that is Difficult and Expensive, Part One

“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.”   – Douglas Adams

This past November 15th, open enrollment for health insurance began and runs through February 15th.  I finally decided to go through this process to start the new year with good coverage and started shopping around for plans.

Now, before I go any further, I need to let you know that everything I’m about to tell you is absolutely true.  You just can’t make this stuff up.

Shopping for Health Insurance, or “I guess we’ll eat Top Ramen from now on”
I haven’t had health insurance in a while.  I had to cancel the policy because I just couldn’t afford it any longer due to some rough times.  When I started looking around this time, I had an idea of what to expect.  Of course, I was wrong.  Wronger than wrong.  Probably the wrongest I’ve ever been in my entire life, other than when I said, “What the hell… she’s a bitch, but I’ll marry her anyway” back in 1994.

As it turns out, for the low, low price of a bajillion dollars per month, you can insure a family of four with deductibles as low as $100,000 per person.  I’m exaggerating, of course, but I just couldn’t believe how plans and pricing have changed.  The coverage is horribad and the pricing is outrageous.

Regardless, I need health insurance (especially since it’s ILLEGAL to not have it now – thank you, Comrade Obama), so I started the enrollment process.

Step One – Retrieve Inaccurate Information from a Provider’s Web Site
As with most research we do now, it all begins with a prayer to St. Google asking for guidance.  I clicked on the first result that came up and started looking at plans.  I found a few that looked good, but were extremely expensive.  I found a few more than were pretty crappy, but were only very expensive.  Then, I found the plans which were the worst possible, but were merely expensive.  And then I found the magic button that said “Subsidy Eligibility Calculator”.

Tax Credits to the Rescue!
Granted, I haven’t read the entire Affordable Care Act (I’m not sure anyone else has, either), but I guess the bottom line for me is that I can receive a subsidy to the monthly premium via a tax credit.  I’m not sure yet how this is going to work, and from what I can tell, I’m not allowed to know how it’s going to work until after I sign up for a plan.  This makes perfect sense… I mean, no one was allowed to read the bill until after it was passed, so why would this be different?

Step Two – Bask in the Sweet, Sweet Delusion of Affordable Care
I was surprised and pleased to find that I qualified for a pretty substantial subsidy to help offset my premium.  This actually brought down the monthly premium to an amount I could live with and I was getting really good coverage, too.  I was very, very happy… until it dawned on me.  With the subsidy, I was paying about what I paid a few years ago for the coverage I had a few years ago.  Basically, it seems like insurance prices have been inflated so the government can step in and pay for the price increase.  In reality, none of it mattered because I ended up not getting the amount I was “eligible” for.

So far, so good.  I’ve only spent a couple of hours doing research and finding the plan I want… the rest should be easy!

Or, not.  Tune in next week when we learn why I used the excerpt from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as the quote for these posts!

Freedom Isn’t Free

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

As we celebrate our independence today, please remember that our freedom isn’t free.  Freedom has been bought with the blood of those who purchased it for us.

Our Founding Fathers risked all they had – reputations, relationships, prosperity and their very lives – so that we might live in liberty and freedom.

Let’s stop allowing others to take those away from us.

Bridezillas, Boobs and Babies

“When the whole world is crazy, it doesn’t pay to be sane.”  – Terry Goodkind, The Pillars of Creation

Bridezilla, Queen of the Monsters!
I was listening to the radio yesterday morning driving into town and the radio station asked for listeners to call in with their favorite “Bridezilla” stories.  Several guys called in talking about how crazy their fiancée  has become and provided some details.

Okay, I get it.  For a bride, her wedding day is important.

I’m tired of the excuses, though.  “This is the day every little girl has dreamed about since she before she could walk.  In fact, we found where she had drawn a sketch of a gown and flower arrangement on the placenta while she was in the womb!”

Sorry.  If you’re a bitch, you’re a bitch.

What I really don’t get though, are the men who tell these stories.  Seriously, bro… you’re going to marry her?  If she’s going to be a psychotic, narcissistic toddler and make everyone’s lives miserable if anyone ruins her “perfect day”, what the heck do you think is going to happen when you can’t decide whether to spend Christmas with your family or hers?  Or when she wants that new car and you say you can’t afford it?  Or, God forbid, she gets pregnant?

If you’ve got a “Bridezilla” on your hands, the miserable life you’re going to have is your own fault, so don’t complain later, idiot.  Do us all a favor and dump her now so you’re not needlessly inflating divorce statistics later.

I ❤ Boobs!
My beautiful lady and I had a conversation a couple of days ago about plastic surgery.  Of course, the topic of breast enhancement came up.  She asked for my opinion and I told her.

I truly couldn’t care less about it.

I think there’s a wide gap between what women believe men think about breast implants and what men actually think.  I think if you ask an average woman about how men feel about breast implants, I think they believe we think like this:

“Man.  Look at that woman over there.  She has amazing breasts… got to be at least a C-cup.  And look how firm and perky they look.  In fact, those beauties make up for all of those warts on her chin.  I wish my girlfriend/wife/cousin (for those of you in Arkansas) had breasts like that.  Dang.  I really, really wish she’d get her breasts enlarged… that would make our sex life so much better.  In fact, I think I’d love her more and our relationship would be healthier and more fulfilling.”

Here’s what the average guy actually thinks:  “Nice boobs.”

Here’s what the average guy thinks when he’s intimate with his lady:  “Yay!  Boobs!”

Ladies, here’s a little secret the plastic surgeons don’t want you to know:  Guys like boobs no matter what.  If you get breast enhancements, our reaction will be, “Yay! Boobs!”.  If you don’t get breast enhancements, our reaction will be, “Yay!  Boobs!”.

Save your money.

Adopted African Children and Other Celebrity Accessories!
I saw a tabloid at the grocery store yesterday whose cover story was about Selena Gomez being pregnant with Justin “Summer’s Eve” Bieber’s baby.  I don’t know if it’s true or not (and truly don’t care), but the headline and tag got my attention:  “PREGNANT & ALONE – Her Shocking Decision to Raise the Baby by Herself”.

By herself?  Are they serious?

For the moment, let’s assume that Selena is pregnant and is going to be a single mom.  The median income for a single mother family is around $25k.  Selena Gomez is worth about $15 or $20 million dollars.

Yeah… this pregnancy will really stretch her to her limits (pardon the pun) as she has her assistants rearrange her schedule, buy the latest baby fashion clothing, hire the decorators for the new nursery, find the right nanny and hire private doctors.

Deifying celebrities who decide to be single moms and treating them as heroes is absurd.  Thinking any celebrity single mom represents the norm is like saying liberal politicians actually care about poor people.  It’s a fantasy.