Coming Out of Left Field

Friday, March 31, 2006

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, part 2

Another source of anger and frustration lately: the financial coordinator at the fertility clinic my wife and I have been going to. We first saw her very briefly on our first visit, and all I remember (thanks to the shock and sheer overwhelmment of the starting the whole process) is her asking us a few questions and informing us that since we were a same-sex couple, we'd have to pay for six cycles before insurance would cover anything. Note that this is before any of the wife's test results came back from the lab, or before we even knew what the doctor would have us doing. Also note that unlike with straight married couples, HMOs can and often do assume that same-sex couples can't possibly have tried already, and force them to pay for said cycles before they say, "Oh, yeah, I guess you do have fertility issues."

Fast-forward two and a half months. We've been through one cycle already, with the accompanying ultrasounds and blood work. One of the wife's test results also seems to indicate we may qualify for some coverage, an impression supported by the fact that we were only charged the co-pay for ultrasounds during the first cycle. But then we show up one day during the next cycle, and are told that we owe a lot of money for that day's ultrasound, even though as far as we know a) it's a diagnostic test and b) it's required by the doctors. Naturally the financial coordinator is not there that day, so the desk clerk eventually lets the wife sign a form saying she understood she may have to pay later.

Several days of phone tag later, we finally see the financial coordinator, who blithely informs us that, yes, we still need to pay everything ourselves, and she explained everything to us the first time we saw her. We tell her we didn't understand what a cycle meant, and had no reason to since the doctor hadn't even decided what we'd be doing yet. She says, "Oh, the nurse manager should have explained that to you." The nurse manager? Did I miss the "financial coordinator" part of her job description? And if I did, then what are they paying you for?

The wife pointed out, justifiably, that it would be much easier if they just had a sheet listing the prices for everything. The financial coordinator didn't really have a response to that, which may make sense. I know that if we'd known beforehand how much things would set us back, we might've picked a clinic that was easier to get to.

Oh well. For now, the wife and I will grit our teeth and pay up. If this ends up working, it'll be worth it. And if it doesn't, we'll adopt. And daydream about fixing the situation. The current idea: setting up a foundation to help same-sex couples and single women who need help paying for fertility treatments and adoption fees.

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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Back when I was telecommuting, I used to have a little gadget that would generate passcodes for logging into the network. The gadget (or "fob") was picked up three months ago, along with the rest of the telecommuting setup, when my contract was terminated. Even if I could've kept it, it wouldn't have made sense to -- what was I going to use it for? -- and I probably would've lost it anyway.

I haven't thought about fobs since, until today. I was just coming back from grabbing some lunch, and found a package leaning against the front door. When I took it inside and opened it, I found a small padded envelope containing another fob, and a print-out of an e-mail to my old work address that started with, "This message is to notify you about the replacement of your blah blah blah ..." and gave me instructions on how to activate the new fob.

I immediately called the service desk, and got someone who was as perplexed about this as I was. She advised me to return the fob to tech services with a note, which I just wrote and printed out, ready to drop in the mail tomorrow. I'm also tempted to write an angry letter to the person who forwarded me the fob in the first place -- my former supervisor, who of all people should know damn well I don't need access to the company network.

But I won't. I'm glad I'm out of there, if only because I don't want to work for anyone who's that clueless.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The West Wing: "Welcome to Wherever You Are"

Not a great episode, but good enough. The hand-held camera and Robert Altman-style overlapping of dialogue made the campaign chaos harder to follow (which was probably intentional, if frustrating). Jon Bon Jovi was very entertaining in his cameo, and looked like he was having fun. The bit with Toby wasn't as interesting. I felt like it could've been resolved earlier this season, but instead it was held back just so the attorney could threaten to ruin the election with a trumped-up indictment.

No White House stuff this week -- hopefully next time, because I miss it.

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Not a good week for Boston sports

Monday: Theo Epstein, taking a page from Sox teams of yore, trades Bronson Arroyo to the Reds for Wily Mo Pena. Who needs pitching and defense when you can slug your way to victory?

Wednesday: Kicker Adam Vinatieri signs a multi-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts, a big blow to the Pats. Wonder if Doug Flutie is still available.

Saturday: Before the hockey season started, Bruins GM Mike O'Connell said the team would content for the Cup this year. In the unlikely event this happens, it'll be without O'Connell, who got the axe today.

It's almost enough to make me pay attention to the Celtics.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The West Wing: "Two Weeks Out"

Finally, Vinick looks like a credible candidate again -- if not to the Republican base, at least to me. Though I do want Santos to kick butt, it's much better for the show to have some suspense. Speaking of suspense, the briefcase plot could've used a little. I know the writers probably intended it as a does-he-or-doesn't-he turning point for Vinick, but since you actually see him in California before he formally makes his decision, it wasn't much of a surprise. Still, there was some nice work from both Smits and Alda, particularly the latter.

Other comments:

-- Good for Toby to be helping out. It wasn't his fault Vinick wised up.
-- Where was Donna? Did Josh just leave her (and us) hanging after she indicated she was open to a relationship?
-- Any accusations of left-wing bias will only be stoked by the character of Jane Braun, who walks and talks like a stereotypical "values" conservative. If she were any less subtle, she'd have to switch over to "Commander in Chief."

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Wrong-headed Romney is at it again

This time he's trying to get legislation passed that would exempt religious organizations like Catholic Charities from anti-discrimination law. The specifics, via MassEquality:

~snip~

Dear xxxx,

Governor Romney is at it again, bashing some Massachusetts families in an attempt to align himself with far right opponents of marriage equality and further his own Presidential ambitions. The Governor recently announced his plans to create a loophole in Massachusetts' anti-discrimination laws so that Catholic Charities can discriminate against same-sex couples.

In just a few weeks, opponents of marriage equality will attempt to strip rights away from same-sex couples and their families by advancing an anti-marriage ballot initiative. We need to send the Governor a message that discrimination in any form, be it in adoption or marriage, has no place in Massachusetts.

Catholic Charities' decision to abandon their adoption program rather than place orphans with gay or lesbian parents only underscores the true motives of extremist opponents of equality. They will stop at nothing in their campaign against gay people and their families, even if it means denying needy children a loving home.

Since Governor Romney no longer easily accepts emails from constituents, we are asking you to draft a letter online which we'll hand deliver to his office. We need you to voice your opinion. We will take care of the rest. Tell the Governor that discrimination has no place in Massachusetts.

Thank you,

Matt McTighe
Political Director

~snip~

Please sign the petition and let Romney know that discrimination has no place in either his presidential campaign or our state laws.

Technorati: GLBT rights, adoption, petition

Monday, March 13, 2006

The West Wing: "The Cold"

First of all: WW is back! Yay!!!! *jumps up and down in celebration*

Now that we've gotten that out of the way -- I was excited to see this episode, but also worried. Even though only a week had passed in West Wing's universe, it's been nearly two months since Duck and Cover aired. So the writers and producers could've taken the easy way out and made this a catch-up episode. But either they knew better or just wanted to pack as much drama as they could in WW's final weeks, because a lot of things have developed very quickly.

It was good to see more of the goings-on in Vinick's camp; even though I think he'll still lose, the staff shake-up and refocusing on "values" will make for an interesting race. One really felt for Vinick, particularly in the last shot of him standing alone in the street, as his former campaign manager is driven away. And as a Democrat, I did find myself cheering the uptick in Santos' poll numbers, and then cheering some more when Josh and Donna looked as if they might (finally!) start something.

The crisis in Central Asia, even apart from the obvious parallels to Iraq, is rather scary. Martin Sheen has always done an excellent job at conveying just how much the presidency weighs on Bartlet, and this was no exception. It's probably unrealistic to hope that the conflict gets resolved quickly (a la "Commander in Chief" or our commander-in-chief), but I'd hate for the series to end with that hanging over its characters.

Other comments:

-- The swirling cinematography was back, but not in every scene (thank heaven).
-- The Kate/Will relationship is cute. I could've done without the lost bra incident, though.
-- Did anyone else yell at Josh, "The key! Grab the key, dammit!"?
-- I hope the last few episodes have at least one scene with Josh, Louise and Sam Seaborn -- three characters extremely sharp of mind and quick of wit. Bet the writers would have fun with that one.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

I'd like to thank the Academy ...

... for giving the wife and me an excuse to have a fun time at the home of Rogue Slayer and her wife the other night. I'm not sure how long RSLS and The Girl have been throwing these shindigs, but they have the recipe for a fabulous party down cold:

-- yummy Chinese food from Jade Garden in Arlington
-- TVs placed strategically in the rooms with the most traffic, so that no one has to miss a speech, skit or red-carpet moment
-- Tivo, so that we could pause for bathroom breaks or seconds on food, and fast-forward through moments that we did want to miss
-- competition ballots (in handy spreadsheet form)
-- a good mix of guests (including a really cute baby we had a hard time tearing ourselves away from)

As for the ceremony itself, consensus seemed to be that Jon Stewart did a decent job as host, some of the presenters (especially Ben Stiller in green, and Will Ferrell and Steve Carell in bad makeup) were hoots, and some of the costumes were laughable. One of the best quotes of the night came from a fellow guests, when Charlize Theron appeared in a green dress that had a big bulby thingy on her left shoulder: "OMG, she's got a growth!"

We didn't do as well with our Oscar picks this year, but since we had seen hardly any of the nominated movies, neither of us were too surprised. Maybe by 2010 we'll have seen all the Best Picture nominees from this year.

Update: reading some Oscar-related posts on You Can Quote Me minded me of another thing i loved -- Lily Tomlin's and Meryl Streep's hilarious homage to Robert Altman.

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Boston Legal: "...There's Fire!"

This was a fun episode, even if the sexual innuendos were more over-the-top than usual. (I really would have gone quite happily to the grave without seeing Denny Chase and his new bride bumping and grinding, or even imagining the size of Brad Chase's cojones.) Denny's actions -- proceeding quickly from marriage through adultery, legal action, and annulment -- were infuriating and absurd, just like him. I like, though, that the show allows him moments of seriousness, even if it's only to justify why he's acting so outrageously.

The wife and I were wondering how such a character could have become such good friends with Allan Shore, who is considerably more restrained (except when he's fighting for his clients). Then we realized that neither of them gives a fig for what other people think. That makes them stand out from the other characters, especially Paul, who do things by the book. Interesting thing, though: Brad is often touted as a honest, hard-working golden boy, yet he's done some questionable stuff himself. Say what you can about Allan's unscrupulous tactics, he's never threatened a priest with an axe or tried to bribe someone to call off a marriage.

Other notes:
-- Allan's deadpan served him particularly well this episode. I loved his nonchalant response when Shirley started to ask him a favor: "You want to have sex with me. Let me take off my coat."

-- Also loved Denny's and Allan's scene at the beginning. Hey, Denny, the show's in Massachusetts. You *can* marry Allan if you want!

-- From next week's preview: Um, Paul? If you're trying to win back your daughter's trust, the last thing you want to do is have someone pose as a recovering drug addict so he can spy on her.

-- Neither of the associates were in the opening credits. Maybe it's just because they weren't in the episode, though now that I think about it I can't remember the last time I saw Ryan Michelle Bathe's character.

-- While trying to figure out if the associates were still in the cast, I stumbled across the Crane, Poole & Schmidt "confidential files". If you want a few laughs, go to the official Boston Legal site and click the "Submit" button under Partner Login on the left.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Seven stand up

Kudos to Geri Denterlein, Donna Gittens, Paul LaCamera, Brian Leary, Gadsby Hannah, Peter Meade, Colette Phillips, and Micho Spring, who know discrimination when they see it:

Seven Catholic Charities board members resign to protest bishops' move

What I find most disturbing about this (aside from Romney's flip-flop about the issue) is the bishops' invocation of "religious freedom" as a justification. Since when did the adoption process become a religious rite? And since when did promoting your own beliefs about homosexuality become more important than making sure children who need good homes get them? Seems like the bishops forgot all about the "Charities" half of Catholic Charities.

Technorati: GLBT rights, adoption

Olympics analysis

There's a good New Yorker column this week about NBC's coverage of the Olympics, which despite the network's best efforts fell flat:

"Ratings for these winter exertions were down from the previous two, and "American Idol" -- Fox piled on two episodes during the first week of the Games and three in the second week -- beat the snowpants off NBC's broadcasts. Something does need to be said about a singing contest with dubious standards being more popular than the glorious athleticism on display in Turin -- but it practically says itself."

While I disagree with her about the snowboarding -- I don't care if halfpipe isn't a real winter sport, I liked it -- I think she's dead-on about everything else. I mostly watched the Olympics on the weekend, and didn't feel compelled to watch it any other time, especially with the radio, CNN and Internet sites reporting results during the day. And the more I heard about athletes misbehaving (Bode, Chad vs. Shani, etc.), the less inclined I was to tune in at all. Maybe NBC could've done a better job with their coverage, but given the time difference and other stuff, the network didn't have a whole lot to work with.

Side note: RIP Don Knotts, aka Barney Fife, Henry Limpet, and Ralph Furley. You'll be missed.

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