Friday, August 31, 2007

New blogs on the side

Disapproving Rabbits!
Munchy's Blog

Also note blogs that have been relegated to the "wake up" section for their dormancy.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Oh, now I get it

I'm already well aware that we shop terribly, unlike the family of seven who lives on $35,000 without looking like slobs or being pitiful.

However, a book deal never hurts.

Once I add up rent, insurance, insurance, insurance, fuel/gas/electricity, and medical necessities, there is plenty to go around, but not to cook in a very picky way or go out to eat or to the opera or buy new books and new shoes and such. I haven't weened myself from fashion, even though I am aware also of child labor, toxic cotton growing, overseas shipping, etc.

Also, the Economides family shops once a month for the whole month. I can barely plan a half of a week, and fresh vegetables turn to slime quickly, even ones that have come from only a few miles away as opposed to South America or Califorinia.

Maybe they could skimp less on the hair gel. . .and I am almost tempted to get the book to learn whether or not they have saved anything for retirement and/or college. And how their medical expenses are. How much they lay aside for random, periodic car repairs (that usually run me $400-$800 a pop).

And if they have dreams of shopping sprees.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Jump in a lake

I'm encouraged by newly-released data indicating the American Dream is alive and well.

Compare the daily earnings of "top executives at major businesses" and the annual earnings of "the average worker." It's the same, but that's ok.

Chief executive officers from the nation's biggest businesses averaged $10.8 million in total compensation, according to the 14th annual CEO compensation survey released jointly by the Institute for Policy Studies based in Washington and United for a Fair Economy.

In the past decade, CEO-pay has increased by about 45 percent in the United States.

(That would be only slightly better than the mythical average four-percent cost of living raise "we all get." If you happen to be stuck in minimum wage-land, you're seven percent behind what you were getting in 1997. But you're not supposed to be stuck there still - you were supposed to go get loans and go to college for something.)

The idea, I guess is to put aside any thoughts of being a teacher, a reporter, an auto worker, social worker, accountant, doctor, etc. and get on the fast track to convert any available knowledge and time toward business school.

From now on, whenever I ask a kid "what do you want to be when you grow up?" they better be bright enough to stand at attention and shout, "CEO!"

Besides getting elected to Congress, being the chief executive officer is the surest way to have a pension these days, too. Nothing shoddy about $1.3 million in pension gains (for CEOs) in a single year. Half of the Americans who are not CEOs and who are only 10 to 20 years from 65/retirement don't even have a pension account. Those who do saw average gains far below the million mark, at only $3,775 over the last five years, but that's fine.

So what if a few CEOs get $400,000 a year just in perks like housing allowances, private jet use, country club fee reimbursements - those 386 VIPs are working very hard to make sure our nation's companies are staying strong and providing jobs. Take a look at the list; these guys are bankers and financiers. They have a lot of responsibility, lots of things impacting their companies' profits to worry about - environmental regulations, labor issues, rising fuel costs, China, the falling market due to all those pesky foreclosures.

The top 20 CEOs are more valuable - 38 times more valuable - than the 20 highest-paid leaders of non-profit companies (there's no profit, so big salaries are out, right?) and 204 times more valuable than the 20 highest-paid U.S. generals (we have to keep our war costs down, right?).

And U.S. CEOs must be three times better than any European ones. By 2006 figures, the likes of industrial giants in Germany and France, etc. only pulled in an average of $12.5 million.

Our best guys got $37.5 million.

I'm just so proud of them. Way to go!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Finally Sent

Unitrin didn't think it was necessary to postmark any official paperwork to us eariler than Monday.

. . .17 days after the accident, and five days after their phone-relayed $2,600. . .

The "prior unrelated damage" in their opinion is a $1,700 job, or would have been, if the car still existed.

My letters to them explain the value of a Toyota is not in how it looks, but that it runs forever in a reliable manner.

Their paperwork did not demonstrate the cost of the damage actually related to the accident.

Also not factored in is the inconvenience of our having to go to a notary - now, if we submit to their request to transfer power of attorney and the title. It's not free, it's a PITA to converge during the day, it's annoying, and it's all part of the collective knowledge that is never passed down to anyone that "it will take four to 40 weeks to resolve any insurance claim filed in the United States of America, and the process will be akin to walking blindly down a dark passage toward an unknown destination."

Rod? Staff? Are you there?

(Ha, ha, as if I have ever had a proper staff.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Still no photos

However, we have learned that our 1998 Corolla (119k miles), with features like a moon roof, CD stereo and a previous blemish previously estimated to have been an $800 repair, is only "worth" the same as a 1988 Corolla, when it comes to what Unitrin's adjusters are willing to cut us a check for.

I know the way insurance "works" is to provide some market value not a true replacement cost, but hell's bells, we could have sold that stupid car for $4,000.

What the hay can one buy for $2,600?* And at least two full weeks after (10 business days, perhaps longer, should that ephemeral check come after this coming weekend, for example) the stupid crash caused by Unitrin's bad-driver client happened in the first place.

No one wants more government regulations, but in terms of consumer expectations what is controlling the time frames, price determinations and appeal rights of regular people versus car insurance providers? It's not like I ever received a "what do expect from us" from my own company when I joined. I hate how difficult it is to be an educated consumer.

Sorry for the fortnight of inconvenience. Thanks. Thanks again. Is that actually fast service? Is that what's necessary for profit margins?

Yes, "client" is an overstatement. I'm sure J.J.'s rates will go up, if he's not dropped altogether for costing his company more than three grand, once rental rates and crashed-car storage fee are added in.

By the way, we had to "release" the crashed car today, so Unitrin doesn't have to continue to pay that undisclosed storage fee. That deadline was five days from August 9, whatever that stands for; that would be today, of course, and today is the first we'd heard. Yes, the long delays are our doing, of course. Remember Unitrin's adjusters' "our office is closed today for a party" last Friday?

Have someone crash their car into yours or run yours into some other at-fault driver's.

How do you force yourself to stimulate the economy through tow truck bills, sales taxes, licensing fees, car purchases, rental car fees, rental car taxes (thank us for supporting the Sprint Arena), collision center storage fees, and insurance adjusters' salaries?

You know how I feel about being forced to do things.

I guess only people with nice cars and full coverage should be qualified to risk driving at all. . .

I'm having a hard time viewing this as an opportunity for little else than spending my time learning I have no rights from the attorney general's office.

*except a decent bicycle or computer

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I cut my finger

It made me cry. It didn't hurt, but there was something painful inside that was waiting for release. I think it may have something to do with the "it's Tuesday, and everything you were going to do today to manage job instead of its managing you did not happen and you are in the same, ditchy place as usual, as last Tuesday and on through approximately 350 Tuesdays."

Home, salad, knife, mistake.

Bandages inconveniently located in precariously-stacked medicine cabinet, which already has been purged of unneedables and expired things. They did not make 1920s apartments with much storage. Two closets, a few cabinets and that's that. We don't have armoires anymore.

Bandages box was thrown at bathroom wall. No harm done; box is ancient, aluminum, takes dents and weeping well.

Friday, August 10, 2007


That's what the answering machine (either the collision center's or the insurance company that's supposedly going to pay us for the totalled Corolla) said today, that they were on holiday.

Thanks for the notice, crumbcakes.

Sooooo, it's been a whole week and no resolution, no cash for shopping for "new" car.

They are paying for a rental, including all $12 or so of Kansas City's Sprint Arena et. al. taxes; however, we are paying $12 a day, too, for insurance for the zoomy Chevy from Enterprise. Wouldn't want to go and have another crash and have to pay our stupid $500 deductible and all.

Still, we're "luckier" than all the pedestrian/bus takers I drove by today in my ancient, yet A/C'ed Camry.

Am I crazy, or is the guy who was sitting on 47th asking for downpayments on cheeseburgers really Jerry? I've been at my job for a while, too, but I think I know when someone else should change theirs!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Car corpse

He went to clean it out yesterday. So, I'll never see it or have any photos.

We don't know what they intend to pay. . .we haven't made much progress on finding any replacement.

Another friend of mine (I seem to be the evil connector) was in a car crash the other day, too.

Darn that stupid superstition about third times' being charms.

Anyway, his involved a Mexican national, with that kind of driver's license and no insurance.

The man left and then returned, not too long afterwards, apparently, with an interpreter. Wonder where he found someone so quickly?

My friend is looking around for resources for where to direct this person who didn't know or didn't follow our financial responsibility laws. I have heard (was it in Lonely Planet?) that when one is involved in a car accident in Mexico, everyone is taken to the police station/jail to sort things out.

My friend did not involve the police, so no tickets were issued.

Good thing we all weren't planning to take a cruise or fly to Europe together this fall, eh?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


So, if you are lucky enough to have a job that lets you out before 5 p.m. consistently and also to have your own vehicle, battered as it is, you might also be the kind of person who plays by the rules, which are expensive, because you believe it is the right thing to do and because you fear financial insolvency and choose to cover your backside.

Why does insurance never come through kindly, despite faithful biannual payments, year after year, and a lack of claims?

*(There was the one time I slid in the rain and created equal damage to two cars, mine and hers, hers being stopped in the rain at a flashing yellow light, when there was only a faux intersection present, created by a high school parking lot. The suburbs can be annoying. It was determined my fault, but since then, nada.)

Back then, over a decade ago, I recall paying maybe $800 to get my car "repaired." To this day it still is deformed in the front, though I must say the Volvo-esque bumper on that 1991 Camry has proven much more substantial than the 1998 Corolla's, which succumbed to a steel Ford pick-up's backside on Friday.

It was raining, and I wasn't the driver. It was in a city setting, 31st Street, west of Main. Urban settings can be tense.

Someone from another country made the choice to trust a panel-truck driver's wave and drove into oncoming traffic, the first member of which was mi esposo in the Corolla. This one is supposedly falling toward Mr. J.J.'s fault; he and his interpretive son were at the station on Saturday when we showed up to file the report. I thought that was kind of interesting. His daughters are cute, and, incidentally, they live in Northeast.

It has been nothing but tedium ever since.

We are grateful that the other driver was uninjured and insured. We're not injured either, except in frustration and that itchy sting of pride when "fate" seems to be indifferently vomitting all over anything like plans or personal progress.


Very funny.

At least we're not being literally thrown up on; that privilege is reserved for my child-rearing friends. Ganbate!

You may know that I played bad girl on Tax Free Weekend and got a silly Mac Book.

This fell recently upon the heels of our buying a new Dell-something-or-other to replace the fried out former tower, etc. with which art is made, etc.

So, a certain insurance company I won't name, the one that raised my rates back then and put me into the "indemnity" class of customers, is yet again proving to be unhelpful. They are stupidly unable to contact the other insurance company, which I had never heard of but which must have bilingual services.

Saturday was spent getting half-answers from "our people" and instructions to contact the other's insurance company.

I'm sure the rules of what to do when you are in a crash are written somewhere. Are they sent with the insurance welcome packet or are they in the state driving law manuals?

I haven't been in the loser-customer category for years, by the way, but perhaps I should be, if intelligence is any qualification. It's like they are just doing whatever they want, since you don't know what they should be doing. It's like uniformed people signing crap mortgages. Vultures.

Today, they are still calling the wrong phone number (not the cells) searching around for the other adjuster's contact information, and for some other reason I can't quite determine, my partner in financial crime can't make certain ends meet in the convoluted systematic (thoroughly culturally-determined) chain of obligations, rights, conclusions.

It's like we're guessing our way through a foreign language, and though well-steeped in American, we feel a little in the dark.

They're saying something frightening, like: "permission to tear your car down."


What kind of morbid, unhopeful statement is that?

How come a friend of mine can get a decent insurance check for a beat-up, early-model Japanese other-car with engine issues out of the cell-phone talker who rammed into the trunk, while our equally (formerly?) useful most-popular Japanese car is hearing whispers of its imminent demise?

I looked up the Kelly Blue Book price, and even a crummy one from our year should be worth at least $3,000. I mean, engine, $1,000, body front/body side, $2,000 . . . right?

Am I incredibly naive or just in denial?

I don't think it matters what stupid company you pay to be compliant. All of them can decide at their loss-calculating whim that you can't have your car back.

No one has said the word "totalled," yet.

I just paid them August 1st.

I wonder if we'll get a refund.

I don't have any photos, which is probably well-enough. I hope they put our stuff in a box for us. I don't want to comb the body for personal effects. There was a lot of crap in that car, namely painting equipment.

At least we didn't fall off a bridge into the Mississippi.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Expo pics

From those (one) of us who use Mac, not PC, and are locked out of Flickr, last time I checked:People came by on Sunday to see near-final product.
Visible from right to left are works by Scribe (whale), Sacred, Pherz, Pepto and Wruk.

Saturday, even though it was humid and mostly sunny, a number of people stuck around for hours to see work emerge.

These people are watching Scribe and Chucho work. Sha9nigin's piece is to the right and is shown completed below, next to part of Chucho's wind-challenged characters.

Quisp's finished piece.

Merok's finished piece.

Berlin's finished piece.