June 30, 2006

Insurance and lack of coverage

I have been going round and round with the insurance company I chose during the open enrollment two years ago. I should have known after the way they never sent me insurance cards last year that they were a disaster waiting to happen, but I selected them anyway. I didn't feel I had much choice, since we still were not entirely sure about the Spousal Unit's disability and when it would kick in. We were strapped, and it was the most reasonable (make that least expensive) of the three offered plans.

Well, things have not gone smoothly. Here, just let me show you the latest correspondence I have written. It is to the Human Resources department here where I work, specifically to the benefits area.

Recently my husband was contacted by our physician and told that he was no longer a patient with them because of non-payment for services. Apparently Humana had not paid for any of his doctor visits for an extended period in spite of numerous resubmissions by the physician billing department.

When contacted by my husband, the Humana representative stated that it was because they were not our only insurance carrier and that they would not pay until the other carrier had paid their portion. Apparently they were under the mistaken impression that because my husband is on SSD and could qualify for Medicaid, that he had availed himself of Medicaid coverage. This is not the case and they were informed of that.

In spite of being informed that Humana is our only coverage, they have yet to act on this and the bills remain unpaid. These bills include not only the charges by the office of Dr. SP of AHN, but also for charges by the C Group and hospital charges for his stay at St Whosits for congestive heart failure a few months ago. He is unable to see his physicians, unable to get his necessary medications refilled, and the mental stress of this is now detrimentally affecting his health.

To compound this, for the last two years that I have been a participant in this particular benefit plan we have not received an insurance card and have had to print proof of coverage letters from the Humana site each time any of us have been seen by Dr. P or his associates. This year alone we have requested cards no less than three times, both on line and over the customer service line for Humana.

These bills need to be paid. The amounts due, as I understand, are not part of the patient responsibility but are covered charges. No amount of conversation with Humana has been productive to that end.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

So, does any of you think I'll even get a response to this?

We'll see.

Posted by Mamamontezz at 09:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 29, 2006

Acid Memory

Over on GutRumbles, there is a posting about memorials for Rob on this, the day of his actual memorial.

I was just a little at a loss at what to write. There is just too much to say. I know I was not near the friend as 90% of the people he knew. I also know that the encounter, however brief and seemingly insignificant as it may seem to others, was profound to me.

I owe my sanity, tenuous as it is, to Rob and to Catfish.

During the summer of 2004 I began a casual correspondence with both Rob and Catfish in email. A lot of people don't realize this, but Rob and I were Catfish’s blog parents, something of which I have always been so very proud.

Well, anyway, that summer they had planned on having a blogfest in Helen the upcoming fall. The Spousal Unit had just recently had his bypass surgery and wasn’t doing all that well. Finances were a train-wreck. I was depressed and on Zoloft. I needed to get away, even if just for a few days, but there just was no way it was ever going to be possible.

Then one day I got an email with Rob’s phone number. During the course of one of our phone calls he asked if I would be heading down for the blogfest. I let him know that it just was not possible, much as I would like to attend.

Then I got the email with my flight confirmation.

You have no idea how much that weekend meant to me. I was able to get away from all that was going on around me and enjoy a lovely fall weekend in the north Georgia mountains with people who I will always remember with much fondness. I drank Boone Farm for the first time (“that blue shit” according to Parkway Jim), smoked a wonderful cigar, tasted (albeit a little larger taste then I should have) Home Made Wine from a mason jar, and sang with Rob in a smoky room full of amazing minds, beautiful souls, and flame-red toenails.

Rob gave me such a gift with his friendship during a horrible time of my life. I wish I had been able to repay it in some way. Perhaps someday I will have that opportunity.

Thank you, Rob, for making this woman feel very special indeed at a very low part of her life.

Thank you for introducing me to Catfish and all of the rest of that group of brilliant maniacs and creative gems.

Thank you for sitting down and comparing “Southern Pedigrees” with me, and shaking you head as you said, “Damnit girl, for a Yankee you’ve got a better pedigree than I do.”

Thank you for bringing boiled peanuts to Helen just for me.

But thank you the most for touching my life in a most positive way. You gave me your friendship, and you accepted mine.

Posted by Mamamontezz at 05:48 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 28, 2006

Telephone Attacks Against Mil-Spouses

It makes a person wonder how many wives and mothers here have received these same calls.

I remember at the onset of the war that there were instances of domestic nutjobs and knuckleheads representing themselves as members of the Red Cross and other organizations who called many a GI's wife with such "news" but that these calls seemed to have abated after a few months.

Insidious and evil as those calls were, I cannot imagine the anguish that would stem from this newest round of telephone assaults, for that is what they most certainly are. They are vile and evil attacks by cowardly sacks of bullshit who don't have the requisite intestinal fortitude it takes to pick up an AK or strap on a homicide vest and take on trained, battle hardened military personnel. Instead of actually doing something that might actually result in more than a hangnail in their battle against we infidels, they choose make obscene telephone attacks on women.

I have serious doubts that the combined testicular matter of no less than a dozen of them would make a decent pair of cat balls. The women they're harassing have more than they do. The only thing that makes these donwanabe martyrs brave is their mistaken notion that they cannot be found.


It's called "Triangulation." It's not that difficult. And all it takes is one misbegotten phone call to the wrong wife's phone to start up the simple, elegant, and effective process that will literally bring "hellfire" down on their sorry, fleabitten, chickenshit asses.

Now, that's one video I want to watch on GrouchyMedia.

Posted by Mamamontezz at 04:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 27, 2006


It is now posted on Gutrumbles. I wish so badly I could be there. The Spousal Unit is trying to make arrangements to be there.

This is Dave, Rob's brother. I just wanted to let somebody know that the arrangements have finally been made. If somebody has the ability to get the word out, please go for it.

There will be a memorial service for Rob at 4 pm on Thursday, June 29th, at Fox & Weeks on Hodgson Memorial Drive in Savannah, followed by an after-service celebration (can't be a wake if it's after the Memorial) at our parents' house. Pickers will bring instruments, everybody else bring voices and any Rob stories you can tell for everybody else to hear while they lift a glass to him. I'm going to miss my big brother, but I'll do my best to send him off in style! There'll be directions to the place at the service, or you can email me: dsmith [at] brannenlaw [dot] com. Thanks, everybody!

I would paint my toes bright C-S Red and wear open toe shoes in his honor. I'd sing "Please come to Boston" like he and I did sitting on the edge of the beds in one of the rooms at the Blogfest in Helen, surrounded by more good people than most folks meet their entire lives. I'd smoke a cigar with Dax and V-God and Catfish and Jim and Ken, the evil tour director and bodyguard, and Eric and Zonker and whomever else happened to show up.

I'd... I'd...

I'd remember.

I just had an opportunity to read all of the comments on Sam's post announcing Rob's passing.

I read them all. I cried through many of them and laughed through others. And when all was said and done and I reached the bottom of the column where the offer of accepting my comment was presented, I could not find the words to put down. They just don't exist.

Part of this, I am sure, is in my complete and utter disbelief that he is gone. Another is in my shock at how much it has affected me. I had not read his blog in a long time on anything remotely resembling a regular basis. But I knew he was there. I knew if I hit that link on my blog or on many hundred similar blogs, I'd be right there anytime I needed to read him.

So now, late in the evening, I have accomplished my goal of finding a good air fare for the Spousal Unit to go and represent us both at the memorial. I wish I could join him there, but it is simply not possible.

All you Jawja bloggers, you keep an eye on the Delftsman for me. Make sure he takes his medications and doesn't drink too much. Make him love your state as much as I do.

Posted by Mamamontezz at 06:28 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 26, 2006

Fare thee well...

I came home today after having been out for a short time to find the Spousal Unit crying. He came out onto the porch when he heard the car drive up, and signalled me to come into the house. He had been and was still visibly upset.

When I came in, he pointed to the monitor. His site was up. I looked. It was a post on the death of a man of whom he and I are very fond and whom we respect.

Rob "Acidman" Smith was found dead, alone in his home. His daughter, Sam, posted the brief notice on his site today. It seems his body just gave up. All of the years of living life as though there were no tomorrow finally produced that exact situation, at least as far as the physical realm is concerned.

Rob was a gentleman, regardless of his own press. I will always remember his kindness to me at a time when I sorely needed a little kindness. And I never met a man, before or after, who could vigorously and mischievously stir the pot like he could. I truly believe he thrived on it. Got his blood up. Gave him something to fight. Scrappers are like that sometimes. But even in the midst of all the turmoil and shit, he would still commit some act of kindness or bravado. You just had to remember to keep your eyes open to it or you'd miss it completely.

I was lucky enough to have my eyes open.

Rob, you are missed. You will continue to be missed. And to all of you who counted him friend and brother, my heart goes out to you. When you all sit down and twist the lid off a mason jar of "Home made wine" in his name, you'd better damned well take a pull on that jar for me.

And Sam, I'm so very sorry for your loss.

Posted by Mamamontezz at 11:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 22, 2006


It took DNA tests to confirm that the two mutilated and unrecognizable bodies found Tuesday in Iraq were in fact the two missing servicemen taken during an insurgent attack on a checkpoint the two were manning.

Let me repeat that for those of you who weren't paying attention. It took DNA tests to confirm that the two mutilated and unrecognizable bodies found Tuesday in Iraq were in fact the two missing servicemen taken during an insurgent attack on a checkpoint the two were manning.

Their bodies were so badly mutilated that those with whom they served would not have been able to adequately identify them. One or both of them had been beheaded. Apparently they were unable to use dental records to identify them, which leads to speculation that either their heads were not recovered, or if were that they had been so badly damaged by whatever it was the "Insurgents" did that it simply was no longer possible.

I read the news about this, articles from the home states of each of the slain young men. I read stories about how young, how dedicated, how loved, how respected each of these slain young men was. Is. Remains even in death. I have read words of extreme sadness, grief, loss, mourning.

I have even read petulant words of "I told you so" from various quarters.

But I have read no words of outrage against those who were responsible, those men who traded whatever fragments of humanity lay within them for savagery.

I have read no screams of condemnation against those so-called nations that would encourage their own nationals to filter into Iraq for no other purpose than to commit state sanctioned murder, be their victims innocent civilians, servicemen, or the fledgling attempt at a democratically elected and non-dictatorial government. I have heard no calls for vengance against the animals who not only slew these two young men and a third who's body was left at the checkpoint, but then also desecrated them in ways that not even the most reactionary and shock-oriented sources would divulge them. I have witnessed no cries of unquenchable anguish by those who's lives and livelyhoods, who's nation and homes were protected by these young men from the very same thugs and ideological mercenaries who perpetrated this act.

No outcry.

And by this we show the shamefulness of our own national impotence. We as a people are woefully and potentially irretrievebly impotent, unable to so much as gain, much less maintain the raging, white hot stainless steel hard-on we need as a nation to end this war the way it must end: Conclusively, victoriously and without remorse, not as some Montesori-esque feel-good-touchy-feelie-multi-cultural exercise conducted by some committee of milktoast "little old ladies" of both sexes from a plan they schemed up during a coffeklatch after their bi-weekly Self-Loathing Victimhood du Jour support group meeting.

We, all of us, as a nation and as a people, civilians and military, secularist and religious, political and apolitical, right and left and center and all of the permutations therein need to find that steel, strap it on and not bother to grease it the hell up. We can no longer shackle our troops with the nightmarish spectre of Mi Lai, the threat of becoming the poster boy of neo-colonial facism for some fringe lunacy of any ilk, or the backhanded condemnations of washed up finger-pointing elected officials who would just as soon gain the bloodstained votes of the vociferous NIMN/Peace at Any Price (as long as they're not handed the check) crowd than those of the men and women who would protect them with their very lives, regardless of how badly these officials impune them.

Let them take off the gloves and do what they have to do to get this done as expeditiously as possible, as decisively as possible, and if necessary as brutally as possible within the guidelines and structure of military law.

Untie their hands and get the everloving fuck out of their way. Bind their wounds, mourn their deaths, salve their souls, celebrate their victories, and support them and their cause. When they are attacked and brutalized by the amoral garbage that slips across the borders from Iran and Syria and Gaza and the other septic dumps that spawned them, scream your outrage at the ones with the literal blood on their literal hands, not those who can conveniently be splashed with figurative blood for political ends.

One of those moments is now. Grieve with these young men's families, both immediate and extended, and celebrate their love of life, love of family, and the love of country which they expressed by taking on the mantle, the responsibilities and the title of Soldier.

Posted by Mamamontezz at 06:20 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 21, 2006

Ice Cream Virgin No Longer

Last night I performed an act I had not yet ever been called upon to perform by any man. It required creativity, stamina, knowlege and a sense of adventure to tread where last night I sallied forth.

I made ice cream.

To be more precise, jane and I made the creamy, thick, sweet concoction from which ice cream is slowly and painstakingly coaxed through a slow, sensual paddling and the application of copious amounts of ice.

Sounds a bit provocative, doesn't it? Well is should. Few culinary delights can potentially delight as many senses as does home made ice cream. Innocent youngsters, world-weary reprobates, saints and sinners, gadflies and warriors, even I imagine Whistler's Mother can find chilled sweet affirmation in a rich spoonful fresh from the churn.

I know that as ice cream goes, I was a bit of a babe in the woods. I had no resevoir of arcane knowledge, no "Gramma's Cookbook" from which to draw down the proper portions for this sinful potion. And the recipes that came in the microscopic owner's manual were just not right, even to a novice. There are just some things that even on the surface look terribly wrong, and these recipes were prime examples of that phenomenon.

What to do? What else is there to do but to go on a massive and moderately funded Web Safari to seek out the best recipes and use them?

Well, none of them was up to snuff either (pretty bad, coming from someone who's never even turned a crank before). I was going to be forced to do the unspeakable and make up a recipe based on what little knowledge I could amass from a selection of lacking recipes, then actually put that recipe to use.

*smiles widely*

"It tastes like a Root Beer Dreamcicle." --jane

If any of you would like this recipe which will make 5 quarts of rich and exceedingly sinful ice cream (4 quarts of mix), look below the fold. You won't be disappointed.

In a big stockpot mix together:

1/2 Gallon Organic Whole Milk, Not Homogenized if you can find it
4 Cups Sugar
1 Quart Half and Half
1/2 Stick of Unsalted Butter

(Yes, I did say Organic. And Not Homogenized. The milk from Trader's Point Dairy is so rich, the cream clots at the top and my is it good.)

Stir it together over a very low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the milk begins to steam just a little. (Don't let it boil, just steam. Boil=Bad.)

In a mixing bowl, whisk together:

10 Egg yolks
5 Whole eggs
Dash of salt
(You can make it with just yolks if you want it richer)

When the eggs are nice and frothy and smooth, take a couple of cups of the heated milk and slowly whisk it into the eggs, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Then reverse and slowly whisk the eggs into the heated milk mixture.

Heat the egg/milk mixture slowly, stirring constantly with either a whisk or a large spoon, until it thickens into almost a custard.

Remove it from the heat, and when it has cooled a little, add:

1 Quart of heavy cream
3 Tablespoons of Vanilla
Any other flavorings or extracts that you want

You literally could use this right now, but restrain yourself (or have a trusted person who knows your safe word restrain you). Trust me on this. It is good to be patient.

When this has cooled enough, place it in pitchers or a gallon jug and refrigerate it over night before churning to allow the flavors to get all familiar with each other.

This will make just about a gallon of ice cream mix. To make it Root Beer ice cream, I added 2 Tablespoons of Root Beer Concentrate. You can just experiment like mad on the flavors.

Posted by Mamamontezz at 08:03 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 15, 2006


No, I'm not talking feline mistresses here. I am speaking of the Kingdom of the Kitty, something my home has become with a vengence.

In the beginning, there were Lucy, the raging queen and perpetually hormonal, and Lovey, the meek and mild and somewhat hairball challenged.

Then there was Valentino, the elder statesman, survivor of a bus accident, ratter extraordinaire, and cross country traveler who came into this household in January. He has yet to get either of these feline graduates of the Squeekie Fromme Charm School to be anything but Housecat Jihadist around him, but goodness knows he has tried.

Well, I just felt awful for him. Still do, because those two spoiled brats will neither befriend him nor leave him alone.

So last Thursday, while Jane and I were shopping for pet supplies at Petsmart, we did a terrible thing...

It all began so innocently, but these things usually do. A trip down the food aisle, a moment in conference regarding litter, a brief bit of levity amongst the kitty toys only served to lull the two of us into a false sense of being in control of our shopping trip. Oh, how false it was, betraying us greatly before we could manage to pay for our purchases and leave that place!

Jane kept looking around the store, as though there were something she specifically wanted to see. We had already taken in the parrots and hamsters and ratties and fish, so what could it be? There were no kennels in the back, no strange or exotic beasts tucked away...

But there was the Adoption Room.

I'm sure you all know where this tale is going. Her name is Veronica, in spite of the fact that the adoption papers list it as Buttercup. She's so pudgy she looks misshapen, the victim of her cuteness and the inablility of the Petsmart staff to keep their lunches to themselves.

She won't eat any dry food that isn't Lamb and Rice, and will only lick the gravy from the packets of soft food. When she tries to run on the hardwood floors, you can almost imagine a beatnik bongo soundtrack accompanying her rapid-fire and ineffective fancy footwork.

Veronica hasn't been any nicer to Valentino than Lucy and Lovey, but she hasn't been any worse either. I just hope that she warms up to his old, gentlemanly self and lets him be her buddy. He needs it badly.

Posted by Mamamontezz at 08:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2006


This is just fricking priceless.

On my 8:00pm break I managed to get a call through on the Sales line. I told the unsuspecting guy unlucky enough to answer my line that I wanted to cancel my service. Now. Immediately. Sooner than that if at all possible. When he asked why, I gave him the Reader's Digest version, sanitized for propriety's sake. After a brief pause, he complied and took the information necessary to process my request.

No further questions.

No pleading for one more chance.

No arguement.

Honestly, it felt as though he had been through this little scene before. He actually sounded as disgusted as I have been since this fiasco started after hearing the sanitized version of events.

But here's the best part. As I was doing this, the service was finally turned on at home.

Go figure.

Well, as far as I'm concerned, it's still cancelled. It's a dead thing, never to be revived, never to see the light of day, never to be entitled to one dollar of my hard earned pay.

TomatoVine. A pox upon them.

Posted by Mamamontezz at 07:57 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

As the Tomato Turns...

And in the continuing saga of Mamamontezz vs TomatoVine, we have today's exciting installment.

When last we checked in on our intrepid band of Hoosier Bloggers, we found Mama and her Spousal Unit embroiled in tough negotiations with the technical support people at TomatoVine, a Voip company. They had fallen for the siren's song of unlimited calling and inexpensive service, and had taken "advantage" of what appeared to be an excellent offer.

However, unbeknownst to them, things were not as they appeared. We join them now at the end of Day 3...

*heavy sigh*

Sounds a bit like a bad soap opera, doesn't it? Well, it feels quite a bit like one too. I spent my entire lunch (semi) hour dialing the many numbers I have, trying to reach someone above a glorified telemarketer but to no avail.

Amazingly, no one at TomatoVine exceeds the rank of "sales" or "technician" and they work completely unsupervised! My submissive has asked repeatedly for a supervisor at the tech support number and was told that no supervisors were available. On one call, the pseudo-technician said that he was the supervisor. During my call this evening to the sales line (I thought that at least here I might get a human being without a 20minute wait on hold), I was told that they did not have supervisors, and that there was no one available above the level of the person I had on the line.

So in a moment of weakness, I called the "back door" number that an unsuspecting sales person had given me on Monday. I listened to the voicemail tree and settled on Marketing. It made perfect sense to me that if anyone in an organization had laser sharp focus on the bottom line, it would be Marketing.

And at 6:20EDT, I reached the voicemail of the department.

And I gave it some food for thought.

Hopefully, it won't choke on it. Or hopefully it will. At this point, one's as good as the other. I'm still without the ability to call out or receive calls, and the New and Improved explanation (provided this morning on the first of many calls today) was that it was a software issue that seems to be affecting only a small number of new subscribers across the country.

Okay, okay, I put my tinfoil hat away last night. I'm back in RealityLand™ again. But I still find it odd that we had service for just about 24 hours and then lost service like that. That's a pretty damned selective software issue. Is it looking specifically for something in my hard drive to validate it's existence? Can it not function until I find the wherewithall to upgrade my RealPlayer? Is it pining away because I choose to use IE instead of Firefox?

We may never know what offended the software so badly that it refuses to comply.

In the meantime, without going back to AT&T, can anyone suggest a more reputable and user-friendly Voip company? I've tired of this game and wish to move on as quickly as possible.

Posted by Mamamontezz at 06:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 13, 2006


So here we sit, no telephone, and according to my submissive michael, the TomatoVine Voip tech support people are saying it's a problem with our account. What the hell kind of problem can a three day old account have?

I called last week and paid for the first month on my debit card. I received the equipment on Saturday, which is when michael hooked it up. Sunday he purchased phones and set them up through a switch so that we would have a telephone in the front, back, and basement of the house.

The Spousal Unit was able to talk to his father on Sunday for a lengthy time. It was a good call. He was able to find out how his elderly and ailing parents were, and they could reassure themselves that he was surviving. Then SP's father told him about an incident he had encountered after a phone call he'd had with his sister in the Netherlands.

SP's father and his sister talked for about an hour. At the end of the call, they said their good-byes and disconnected. A few moments later, SP's dad got the strangest call. A gentleman identifying himself as FBI stated that they had observed the hour long call, but that the Dutch translator had not been available for the call, and would he, SP's father, please be so kind as to tell him everything they had discussed.

I know this man. This is the man who survived a Nazi forced labor camp by sheer will and intestinal fortitude as a young teen. This is the man who came to America with a young wife, a toddler and an infant and built a life for not only for them, but also for the four additional children he fathered after they arrived. This is the man who worked hard to attain his citizenship, who is an active member of his church and community, and who lectures groups on his experiences during WWII.

Just how do you suppose this man responded to such a request from a nameless, faceless voice on a telephone after an intensely private and unpleasant conversation with a dying sibling?

I don't imagine it was pretty.

SP and his father discussed this prying and invasive incident during their conversation on Sunday.

As of Monday, our brand new TomatoVine Voip service is, well, non-service. And they can't seem to be able to tell us anything about why it is not working. Modem's fine. Switch is fine. Cable internet service is fine. Phones have dial tone but no calls will connect through them. Nor will calls come into the house on the phones.

The only thing that the technician at TomatoVine's tech support number will say is that there is "something wrong with the account."

I believe that.

Just how long does it take to get a warrant for a tap, anyway?

Posted by Mamamontezz at 06:32 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack