Saturday, January 30, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
When we moved out of our Atlanta condo in June, our stuff went into a very cramped 10X10 storage unit. We had to wait a few months for shipment (because we've been so tight on money) Our stuff was picked up 6 weeks ago, and finally made it to Spanish Fork yesterday. For a little perspective, our belongings took up the majority of space from the ramp to the end of the truck. Somewhere around 10 feet, and only about 25% of the truck. What a joke. We ended up having to pay $2900 instead of $1820.
We did have some casualties with a few of our items. The above frame is from a large fancy mirror that broke, and we also lost the framing elements of one of my favorite Japanese prints. My saddest loss? The beheading of several of my Willow Tree statues. We're going to attempt a claim on our broken items, but I'm not holding my breath.
As much as I have hated living out of boxes and suitcases the past two years, I have to admit that I really love having ALL my belongings in the same state; my linens, my dishes, my movies, my tech items, and my clothes! That hasn't happened since 2003. Other than a short anxiety attack, the unloading process was pretty standard.
Monday, January 25, 2010
"Rob has authorized a charge for 750 at the same rate initially quoted to the customer which resulted in a discount of $378.00 discount. The customer shipment size was estimated by other companies the same 560 cu.ft. just like we have because of the list of items the customer provided. She also sent us copies of estimates she received which were for more than 500 cubic feet only. so to say we were the only ones is just wrong.
Furthermore, if the customer wasn't just looking for bottom line price when comparing quotes she would have been able to pay more attention to details. We are very sorry the customer is not completely happy but trust our above explanation sheds some light over the REAL move details."
Friday, January 22, 2010
Thursday, January 21, 2010
The past few days have been somewhat miserable for me. Anyone who's read my blog for a while knows that I've had a ridiculous about of dental work and other tooth woes: crowns, root canals, periodontal work, the Cerec fiasco, etc. Last week I went to a new dentist, who informed me that two recent crowns would have to be replaced due to shoddy work, and one would need an implant. He also suggested to crown a molar that had an old gigantic amalam filling. I was bummed that I needed to have so much recent (expensive) work replaced, but I'm kinda used to it.
On Sunday night, after returning from my quick trip to Florida, my upper left gums and molars started throbbing. I was in an immense amount of pain, and I had no idea why (because all of the work scheduled was on my right side). Through the night, I used Orajel, Lortab, and many ice packs to try to take down the pain level. Between 2 am and 8 am, I only dozed off a few times because I hurt so bad. Despite my perpetually sore back, that pain had NOTHING on my jaw.
I called the dentist's office as soon as they opened, and they got me in a few hours later. After a round of x-rays, he informed me that I had 4 abscessed teeth, with infection permeating both my upper and lower jaw. The two worst teeth were ones that had ceramic crowns, so he drilled them and did two pulpotomies. He handed me a prescription for Amoxicillin and told me to come back on Thursday to complete the root canals. He hoped that the other infected teeth would improve with the antibiotics, and would not require invasive treatment.
Over the past three days, I've been miserable. Not only was I dealing with the dental drama, I had a little mishap at physical therapy on my back. I finished an hour of electrostim and traction, and as I sat up, my hip popped about 3 cm out of place. My physical therapist did some manipulation and nearly and hour of electrical ultrasound to get me to the point I could walk. I still feel like a disconnected insect. Or a bowlegged cowboy.
Luckily, Taylor was home for a few days to take care of me. He replenished my ice packs, made sure I took my meds on time, prepared soft foods and offered general support and entertainment till he had to fly back to Memphis yesterday. Just before heading up to SLC to drop him off at the airport, I started getting a fever and body aches. By the time I dropped him off, my fever was up to 103*. My face was so hot, I felt like I could fry an egg on it. Something tells me the Amoxicillin wasn't strong enough.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I'm curious to know... how many of you readers have made any money off of your blogs and websites? I just signed up with MomsMakeMoneyBlogging.com and hope to find great success. I've been blogging since 2002, and after investing so much blood, sweat, and tears (with a fair dose of TMI), I'm ready for a little payback :) Have you had any payback? Did you consider yourself a sell-out? Want to join the journey with me? Click below for more info:
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I love to shop, but not in the traditional "Let's go to the mall and have a girly shopping spree heyday" kind of shopping. As soon as I was old enough to help my mom clip coupons, I gained mad discount bargain shopping skills. I am true to my brand loyalties, despite buying most of my stuff at discount retailers and thrift stores. Growing up, I was a sucker for the "As Seen On TV" commercial products (I still am, if the recently acquired SlapChop in my cupboard is any indication). I've been shopping online since the late 1990's, and get better prices on the things I do buy that way. Although I don't do much shopping from catalogs, I have had a longtime guilty pleasure obsession with SkyMall Magazine.
Nothing produces a case of the "Gimmes" more than Skymall. It's a brilliant airline marketing tactic...fill 136 pages with exciting and unique products, and provide each passenger with a copy at arm's length. I usually ban myself from even pulling the magazine out of my seatback pocket, knowing that I will launch into greedy materialistic consumer mode before I hit 10,000' altitude. But on my flight back from Memphis this weekend, I indulged in a little SkyMall fantasizing. In honor of my upcoming 30th birthday (in 17 days), here is my Skymall wishlist:
Friday, January 15, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Life is Strange. But I must follow that up by saying, "Life is Beautiful." I know I'm not the first one in the history of the world to say those words, but the past 7 months have been as unpredictable as being blindfolded on a rollercoaster.
As I've been dealing with many difficult health issues this past year, the U.S. healthcare reform debate has fallen below the Nicole radar. It surprises me that I've avoided it, as my career is in healthcare administration. I know it's an important time in my field, but seven months of unemployment have kept me out of the trenches. Despite a very concerted effort, I have not been able to find work in my field. Although I have skills that would be portable to many other fields, I don't want to give up what I love. I believe that quality care should be available to all people, regardless of their ability to pay. While it's true that many healthcare organizations offer charitable care to the needy, it seems like many people in need fall through the cracks.
I am currently insured through my husband's employer on a plan with Cigna. The plan provides excellent benefits at a low cost for in-network providers. I am extremely lucky to have $5-10 copays, and very reasonable coinsurance. Unfortunately, the Cigna network has been fairly limited in both the Atlanta and Wasatch Front areas. In Atlanta, I couldn't use Emory facilities in network (while working for Emory, and promoting their Campaign Emory fundraising). In Utah, 90% of Intermountain Healthcare facilities are out-of-network for Cigna. This is frustrating to me, as I'm a previous 4.5-year employee of Intermountain. I believe in their Mission, Vision, and Values, and want to support them with my healthcare dollar.
My previous positions with Intermountain were as an assistant to a medical director at LDS Hospital, and as a Patient Service Rep in Accounts Receivable Management. I have also worked for City of Hope Cancer Center, Prime Healthcare Services, and University of Michigan Medical Center. I have experience in customer service, billing, coding, transcription, Joint Commission an AOA accreditation, physician credentialing, training, research, and have processed countless financial assistance applications. I have participated in executive-level hospital management meetings. Although I am not an expert by any means, I can confidently say that I am qualified to have an educated opinion on what works in healthcare, and when healthcare goes wrong.
Case in point: My daughter Rosie has been sick for a few weeks with kidney problems. My otherwise lively child has been mopey and lethargic, and complains of pain daily. On Christmas night, Rosie was very sick and begged me to take her to the hospital. We left our family holiday party an drove to the IHC Provo Instacare (which is in-network with Cigna). I advised the Instacare registrar that I had submitted a financial assistance application to the Lake Park and Creek Plaza billing offices a few weeks prior, and was unable to pay a copay. The Instacare flat out refused to see her without a copay...so I ran out to the car, grabbed a Christmas card, and paid her copay with the Christmas cash I got from my grandma. And what happened then? They took her blood, scanned over the results, and told us to go across the parking lot to the Utah Valley Regional Center Emergency Room immediately (which we later found out was out-of-network).
The ER registrar was a little nicer, especially when I brought along the copy of my recently-completed financial assistance application. We sat in the ER waiting room for over an hour, and spent a few more hours in the ER room 9 (which had a broken recliner, and no other chair available). After 4 hours, they said her urinalysis showed that she had inflammatory cystitis. If the Instacare would have taken 5 extra minutes to take her urine, she could have gotten on antibiotics and saved us a 4-hour ER visit and copay.
When we arrived at Instacare, it was a few minutes before they were closing at 9 pm. They happily took us back to the room, but pushed us back out the door in 5 minutes.My question is: "If they were going to send her to the ER, why did they take my gift money to pay a copay for a "visit" that didn't really end up being a VISIT?" Luckily these visits happened before the end of the year, because we'd already met our deductible. Had this happened a week later, we would have been slammed with deductible fees.
A few days later, Rosie had another ER visit. Her symptoms had worsened, she had a high fever, and I drove her back to the UVRMC ER (still not knowing it was out-of-network). The doctor wasn't sure why she was in so much pain and guessed that she had kidney stones or appendicitis. He ordered an abdominal CT scan to see if the problem was GI or urinary. After 3 more hours of sitting on room 9's broken recliner, we found out that her scan was fine. Rosie got a pain pill, some "orange pee" pills, and a stronger antibiotic. Since then, we've been following up with a non-IHC pediatric urologist and she's doing much better.
I was going to just sweep this experience under the carpet, but then earlier this week I received several IHC financial assistance rejection letters. Besides the recent hospital visits, I had some outstanding bills from all of my sleep apnea visits. Apparently we are slightly over the National Income Poverty Guidelines (remember my husband is a struggling regional airline pilot?) Despite our unmanageable debt from student loans and my 7 months of unemployment, we do not qualify. When I called the billing offices to get more information, I was told that our income was slightly too high, and our balances were not high enough for them to make an exception. Gee thanks.
I know I'm not the only person to have an experience like this. After going through it personally, it has really lit my fire to get back into a position where I can help avoid situations like this. I'm going to keep working on my medical coding certification, which I've been working on from home to keep myself busy while looking for work. It's time to make my voice heard. I've been in both hospital management, and also at the receiving end of a "charity" denial. I hereby recommit my effort to apply for all the positions I am qualified for. I need to be a part of my field again.
The Palladium is a fantastic venue, and I was excited to actually be there for a performance (after being a lifetime closet fan of The Lawrence Welk Show.) It underwent a very extensive renovation that was completed 6 months earlier in 2008, but it still had the retro charm. Mat Kearney, who has become one of my other recent music obsessions, performed a stellar opening set (and Esther and I saw Mat again in SLC in October). Keane's set was phenomenal...the best performance I'd seen of their three concerts I've attended (Coincidentally, all in LA). After the show, us girls were DETERMINED to meet our favorite band. We waited out on the street by the door, shivering in the cold next to the tour bus, for over an hour until the boys from Battle came out to greet their adoring fans.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Phew! I finally made some headway in MovingGate 2009-2010. It took bombarding Moving 1 with voice mails and emails for a few days before Rob would actually accept a call from me (I was really getting sick of the receptionist whispering to him that I was on the phone, thinking she'd placed the call on hold). After reviewing the emailed quotes I'd sent from other moving companies, (and sternly warning him with some legal mumbo-jumbo suggested from my buddy in law school,) Rob finally agreed to removed the $2/CF surcharge on the "extra" 190 CF. That brought down the price $360. Not terribly significant, but he said it was the best he could offer outside of court. Since I didn't want to wait for my belongings through a lengthy multi-state court process, I accepted the arrangement. It's still $1075 more than the binding estimate, but I don't think I could have been any more successful without paying for a lawyer. I never heard back from Gephardt, but if he does contact me, I'll see if he has any additional tips for me. I've reported the company to the BBB and American Moving and Storage Association. In the words of Mr. T: "I pity the fool who uses Moving 1!"One other bright spot: We negotiated with Taylor's company to give us additional reimbursement towards our moving costs. They'll cover the $450 in packing supplies. With the "discount" from Moving 1 and extra money from the airline, we are scheduled to have our stuff arrive in Spanish Fork sometime between January 16-22. We'll have to do some mad pawning, Ebaying, and KSL.com selling to get enough cash this week (since the reimbursement will take a while). I've got a ton of Rosie's baby clothes (newborn to 4T) if you're interested....
Friday, January 8, 2010
Just to clarify:
I meant no disrespect for Embry Riddle in my previous post regarding "The Bachelor - On The Wings of Love." Personally, the only exposure I've had to ERAU is listening to the cockpit experiences of my husband and his pilot friends. When they hear about how "Grandpa Moneybags paid for my training at Embry Riddle," its hard for them not to feel some resentment. Those typically are the same captains who make fun of my boys for living off of peanuts, pretzels, and Biscoff cookies (because money for their student loan payments trump a healthy meal). These loan payments often exceed their take home pay, and they went to the least expensive flight school they could find.
I do not doubt that Embry Riddle graduates gain an excellent education there, regardless of how it was financed. Maybe some of your ERAU grads who sent me hate mail will understand my perspective a little more...and will be kinder to your fellow pilots who trained in a less prestigious program.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
When I first heard that the new season of ABC's The Bachelor was going to feature an airline pilot, I thought it was a joke. Knowing what I know as the wife of a pilot, I was baffled that any woman would willingly thrust herself into the pilot wifestyle. Then I realized that most of these women probably DON'T know the reality of being a pilot wife.
This is what I know so far about the Bachelor, Jake Pavelka:
"31-year-old Jake Pavelka is out to prove to the world that nice guys don't finish last. No, they finish in love. Fasten your seatbelts and leave your relationship baggage at the door as this handsome commercial pilot from Dallas prepares to take flight as The Bachelor.
"Jake knows himself well enough to know that he's not made to live alone. He just needs to find the right woman -- his best friend and soul mate - and that's whom he'll marry. Searching for a woman who is intelligent, confident, energetic and spontaneous, he admits that he can't wait for fatherhood.
"Jake Pavelka grew up in Denton, Texas and attended University of North Texas and Embry Engineering University for Aerospace Science. He discovered his passion for flying at a young age, as he started taking lessons at age 12. As an accomplished pilot, he was fortunate to discover his passion at a young age, Jake started taking flying lessons at age 12. An accomplished pilot, he became an airline captain flight instructor at 23. On his days off, he has fun flying acrobatic planes, taking dance lessons and woodworking at the home he owns near Dallas." (ABC.com)
"In person, he's feeling nothing but love from fans, many of whom are passengers who greet him as they deplane. (Pavelka is a captain and airline flight instructor for Atlantic Southeast Airlines, a Delta Connection carrier.) "Everything's been so flattering," he says. "I'll go to different airports in different parts of the country, and there are really great people going, 'Hey, so glad you came back.' That's really humbling."(Dallas News)This first thing that hit me was the fact that he attended Embry-Riddle Engineering University for Aerospace Science. Within the first few minutes of episode one, Jake mentions that he was fortunate to have a "storybook childhood" and that he was the only one in his family to not pursue medicine. For anyone who knows anything about flight training and education, Embry Riddle is typically where you go when your family is rolling in the big bucks. According to the Embry-Riddle website:
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the world's oldest, largest, and most prestigious university specializing in aviation and aerospace. It is the only accredited, aviation-oriented university in the world.
Undergraduate Cost of Attendance
|Tuition and Fees||$28,600|
|Room and Board||$8,500|
|Total, non-flight students||$38,300|
|Estimated annual flight costs*||$15,000|
|Total with Flight||$53,300|
From what you see, Embry-Riddle's program appears to cost a little over $53k. But when you read the fine print, it says that flight instruction is $15k for years one and two, and $10k for year three. Add that together....you're looking at $78,300 to attend the "Ivy League" flight program. To achieve comparable training at a state university (such as UND or UVU), your undergrad studies would be slashed by 2/3rds (plus flight costs).
The next frustration was the wording of the bio on the ABC.com website: "An airline captain flight instructor at 23." To quote Jake in the introduction of episode one, "I've been in the pilot seat for most of my life...I've been a commercial pilot for 10 years. My office is at 37,000 feet. There's really no word to describe my passion for aviation." He goes on to talk about his obsession with aerobatic airplanes (another luxury of the wealthy pilot)
Now what exactly is an airline captain flight instructor? Oh yeah....there's no such thing. To paraphrase Wikipedia for a moment; One cannot become a commercial pilot (CPL) until age 18, nor an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) until age 23. Although one technically could become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) once completing one's CPL, it is highly unlikely that said instructor would be airline captain flight instructor at age 31. A more appropriate description would be "a regional airline captain who flight instructs on the side."
One thing ABC did get spot on, is the typical pilot obsession for fitness and staying in shape. Pilots must be evaluated by a medical examiner frequently, and many common ailments can disqualify you from flight. My pilot is very concerned with his health and appearance, which can be difficult to keep up with rigorous schedules and limited availability to fitness centers during trips.
So what about the lucky ladies? What advice do I have for them? If you want to be a successful pilot wife, these qualities are a MUST:
Flexibility: Despite a pilot's seniority. there will ALWAYS be hiccups in his schedule. Flight mixups, freak weather, maintenance delays, etc. Or he just may have a crappy schedule in the first place. Be prepared for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays without him, year after year (and always celebrate the ones you DO have together) Don't expect to live in the same domicile (or country!) for the rest of his career. He could be furloughed, displaced, or downgraded with no notice. His payscale may stagnate, or cut in half (if downgraded from captain to first officer)
Trust: No matter what career your man is in, there WILL be temptation. The persona of an airline pilot is suave, debonair, and powerful, which will attract both flight crews, passengers, and airport employees. Cheating happens in aviation, just as it does in medicine, finance, education, etc; but it is enabled by the provided access to hotel rooms in random cities. This isn't to say that your pilot will cheat, but you need to keep your relationship strong, and the communication often and honest. If my husband and I don't talk at least 3 times a day, we really start missing each other. When he's home, smother him with affection to help him remember why he's working so hard to support you.
Independence: The pilots who hold fabulous lines will still be gone several weeks per month. If you have children, you'll have to act as a single parent. At some point, you'll have to go to parent teacher conferences, recitals, and sporting events alone. You will likely have increased daycare costs (if you work outside the home). Cultivate your talents and begin new hobbies to fill up the time that you'd otherwise sit around lonely. Realize that you may be sitting on the church pew, week after week, without your man at your side. Take advantage of your flight bennies and visit a friend out of town whenever you get a whiff of jealousy of all the fabulous locales he flies to (Evansville, South Bend, Dayton, Wausau...definitely worth getting jealous over!)
Debt Management: Few pilots are as fortunate as Jake to have a "storybook childhood," with a family able to finance flight training. My husband is a 3rd year first officer at a regional airline, with his take-home pay BARELY able to touch his monthly student loan payments. Most of the pilots I know have well over $100,000 in debt to cover plane rentals, instruction, insurance, exams, and travel expenses. Gone are the idyllic days of extremely wealthy pilots, especially as they start our their careers (except the high-seniority captains, like Sully, who have taken significant paycuts as well). You will probably have to bring in supplemental income to cover the inevitable living expenses beyond his paycheck. Many pilots have to take on second jobs on their off days. Learn how to budget and live within your means.
A good support network: There are many cities that you pilot may be based: MEM, JFK, DTW, LAX, CVG, MSP, DFW, ATL, etc. Sometimes you will have no control over where you'll be assigned, and it can be VERY lonely to be in a new city with no friends and family (just look at my posts from Detroit and Atlanta....lonely times) Or your pilot may commute, as mine does, and that is even more time that you are without your significant other. Make it a priority to establish a great LOCAL network of friends, family, neighbors, and church members . Join some of the established websites such as Pilot Wives Club or Wives and Girlfriends of Pilots Facebook page.
Now that I've said my two bits, I'm going to sit back and enjoy the romantic reality drama!