Archive | December, 2011

Four Reasons to Prepare for the Robot Apocalypse in 2012

29 Dec

Just a few more days until 2012, and if you’re anything like me, you’re probably coming up with some vague New Year’s Resolutions you have no intention of keeping and reorganizing your hair doll collection for the upcoming celebratory tea party.

Not pictured: Dignity.

One thing you’re probably not doing? Preparing for the upcoming robot apocalypse.

While you’ve been busy shopping for Barbies and mobbing bowls of free candy, the machines have been lining up their zeros and ones in preparation for the takeover. How do I know?


A great selling point on biological entities is the fact that we can regenerate tissue and heal. I know, pretty awesome right? While I absolutely hate cutting tomatoes, I dig the fact that I can slice my finger open and still have use of it after I wake up from fainting.

Who the F*$% designed these things?!

I’m constantly boasting to my iPhone about my super-human abilities. When it freezes during Jelly Defense, I remind it that I can fucking end it at any moment with a free fall. Yet I’m realizing now that this may soon be an empty threat thanks to this article. While I haven’t actually read it, the headline tells me everything I need to know. Self healing robots.

Apparently a group of traitorous humans at the University of Illinois has figured out a way to create an electronic circuit that heals itself when it’s metal wires are broken.

When reached for comment, the group's spokesperson asked, "Have you seen this boy?"

Has anyone thanked Illinois for murdering civilization?

2. At least they can’t build impenetrable fortresses right? RIGHT?

They totally can.

It turns out that while you were putting together your nephews bicycle this Christmas season, the robots were busy learning how to build a castle out of foam bricks. All by themselves.

And they didn't even read the instructions.

Oh, and they’re called Quadcopter Drones. Remember the name when you’re telling your limbless grandchildren war stories from inside your mud cave.

The swarm of  50 Quadcopters has successfully built a 20 foot tall, 11 foot wide “Flight Assembled Architecture” (i.e. “Doom Fortress”) completely autonomously with the help of a “Fleet Management System”.

I’m sorry, I misspelled “Skynet”.

I'm sure it's safe kids. It's probably just looking for foam blocks.

3. Remember when successful revolutions in the Middle East utilized Facebook? Yeah, that… But for robots.

I don’t keep up too well with world events, but I know that some crazy shit has been going down in the Middle East. What’s been referred to as the “Arab Spring” has really reshaped how we view social medias and their effects on social change.

Facebook Ads in Egypt are weird.

So who’s the buffoon putting this thing together?

In case you can’t be bothered to click the link, the headline is, “Facebook for Robots Helps Droids Get Smarter”.

Than this?!?!

If the robots are anything like us they’ll just constantly upload photos of themselves pursing their lips and keeping tabs on how much weight their ex-boyfriends/girlfriends have gained.

So excited to go out with the girls after work today! LOL!

But they’re not, so it’ll probably end with an apocalyptic machine war.

4. But at least they’re not 13 feet tall and covered in guns. Oh, what? Never mind.

Someone needs to punch Hajime Sakamoto in the mouth. He’s working on building a 13 foot tall Gundam humanoid robot with the intention of eventually going as high as 59 feet.

Japan, will you never learn?

I’m pretty confident that I can overpower most intelligent robots by simply accidentally spilling my chocolate milk on their keyboard as I reach for my bag of Jelly Bellys.

"Hi, Apple Care? Are Tutti Fruttis covered under your warranty?"

However, with the advent of 59 foot war machines my size advantage is suddenly negated.

I’m not sure why Mr. Sakamoto is even contemplating creating real-life Gundams. I mean, he’s definitely human, so why does it feel like he’s trying to give the robots the keys to our front door?

Yeah, definitely human.

So perhaps it’s time to reevaluate our New Year’s resolutions and dedicate them towards the anticipation of the robot rebellion. If I’ve learned anything from countless years of Terminator sequels, it’s that a little bit of precaution and preparedness can make up for some really terrible acting.

Seriously though, what the fuck was that?

Note to the human reader: This is very pleasant example of satire and should not be assumed as fact. Machines do not have attribute of critical thinking and therefore should not be viewed as potential threat. Please continue to enjoy holiday season. Max, who is definitely alive, wishes you the reader happy new year.

– MacBook Pro #1892847


Three Things We Jews Love About Christmas (Just Another Holiday Post)

23 Dec

The majority of my friends (mostly imaginary) celebrate Christmas… At least, the heavily marketed version. Being Jewish, I don’t really participate, but I gotta say, I really love Christmas. And I’d like to tell you why.

1. Not having to buy presents for everyone.

Every time I have lunch with a friend during December they’re stressed to the gills. And it’s not because they’re trying to get all their work done before the holidays. It’s generally because all their free-time is dedicated to tracking down the hottest new fad item for their 6-year-old nephew.

Vader finds Elmo's lack of faith disturbing.

I read a statistic I just made up that over 80% of presents get returned or thrown away. So that three hours you spent trying to figure out what to get Steve (shopping for a dude is tough) probably just ended with an unceremonious, “Thaaaaaanks…” and visions of tossing the gift into the trash.

In case you're wondering, this is what he wanted.

All my friends are busy spending every free moment running to this store or the other to buy gifts for co-workers, family members, co-workers of family members, family members of co-workers, customers, random strangers, and anyone trapped in between. Not only is it a huge time-suck, but there’s a large financial cost to it as well. Eighteen percent interest on a $2000 purchase of Beanie Babies sounds like a good call right?

This is what a terrible decision looks like.

Thanks, but I’ll spend my holiday time eating free candy canes and cookies.

The added perk for us Jews is that since our Christmas celebrating friends follow the “it’s better to give than to receive” mantra, we still end up getting a bunch of gifts.

Friend: “Hey Max! Listen, I know you don’t celebrate Christmas, but I was thinking of you while I was shopping for my family… And I got you this.”

Max: “Oh man, $50 Amazon Gift Card?! Best gift ever! I feel kind of terrible… I didn’t get anything for you…” (make sure to frown here)

Friend: “Oh that’s alright, I know you don’t celebrate Christmas, I was just thinking of you is all.”

BOOM. Free gift. I hope you were taking notes.

It's amazing how much Amazon you can get for fifty bucks.

2. Total relaxation on game day.

The 25th of December tops my stress-free-days list every time. There’s no reason to go outside since absolutely everything’s closed. This means you can compartmentalize all your “to-dos” (i.e. fix the strap on my Hello Kitty backpack) to a day where the post office is actually open and you can get customer service on the phone (you know, to complain about the backpack). Also, no family at the house means no dishes, no petty political discussion, and no flipping over the Trivial Pursuit board during heated debates.

Because Wookiees hate pop trivia.

Meanwhile, everyone else is trying to figure out how to stop the kids from chasing after the dogs that Aunt Anne thought it appropriate to bring and how to get Uncle Al to stop pointing threateningly with the hand that’s not spilling eggnog all over your brand new carpet.

This should actually be reason #1.

Meanwhile, I’m at home counting my winnings from a rousing game of dreidel. Gold wrapped chocolate coins never tasted so good.

3. Going on an exchange program.

Every now and then, one of my friends decides to invite me along so I can “see what christmas is really like” and I get to go visit another culture for a day. This might be as simple as drinking beer and playing cards or a more complex situation like going to church and opening presents with the fam. It’s such an exploratory experience that I generally put it on my resume.

Because nothing says "world experience" like sombreros.

Christmas with friends means awkwardly listening to embarrassing stories about family members you haven’t met that are either: A. Not there, or B. Very drunk. And it always ends with me leaving before cleanup, ’cause F that noise.

And hopefully before this guy shows up.

Though I must say, my favorite part of the holidays is being so lazy that I don’t even have to come up with a conclusion to my blog posts.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah!

Five Types of Customers I Think We’re All Trying To Avoid

18 Dec

There’s an outlandish volume of effort put in to creating incredible customer service nowadays through online resources, books, and presentations (in addition to countless other avenues) and I totally agree with it. I love the state of customer service and the energy companies put in to create an awesome experience for their clients. You can return anything anywhere for any reason.

You still can't however, return a punch by Chuck Norris.

The flip-side of the improved emphasis on service is that there’s a growing number of customers who are turning into, or have always been, absolute tools. They believe being a customer excludes them from being respectful or having empathy for what it means to work in the service or retail industry.

Here are five ways you can be just like them:

1. I’d like to murder your business through the power of the internet.

There’s something special about the anonymity of the net that puts us all in a position where we feel we can say things we’d normally be too embarrassed or tactful to say in public (see: my blog). Take this stooge:

Let's tar and feather this guy.

So… Let me break this down. In the 5 years you’ve been going to the restaurant you’ve never bothered to take the time to write a positive review. Now that you’ve had a negative experience you wanted to show the world what a #%*$ing turncoat you are by creating a writeup representing exactly 1% of your experiences with said restaurant? How could you possibly come to the conclusion that the restaurant has “lost its sense of professionalism” and let its success get to its head based on tasting some warm soup? That’s like me making the assumption that you’re a pretentious twit based on this one lonely post. Except that I’d be right.

And your dog looks ridiculous.

Review sites are a great place to let others know about your experiences. Just remember that businesses (especially new ones) depend on your reviews to bring in new customers. So be fair. Don’t be like Chihuahua guy and reserve your posts exclusively for bad experiences.

2. I don’t think servers should be allowed to vote.

For some reason, certain people hear the word “server” and think “servant”. Just because someone is getting paid minimum wage to bring you a plate of ham doesn’t mean you’ve been given the green light to treat them like sub-citizen trash.

And I want you to cover my character flaws with extra cheese!!!

These customers get heated so quickly that it’s hard to understand how the Judicial System still lets them out of their homes. I’ve had plenty of experiences with customers who feel that it’s perfectly acceptable to begin yelling and swearing at an employee because of some unforeseen circumstance like a long line. Most people handle small inconveniences with a shrug and a sigh, but because they’ve been raised by wolves the only thing this customer knows how to do is bark and foam at the mouth.

Hey man, don't put that on us. We raised her right.

It’s not that you can’t get frustrated or complain, just do it in a constructive way that keeps the intention of the conversation in mind: To solve the problem, not to make the guy that has to deal with you for $7.00 an hour feel like crying.

And on a side note, learn how to tip. I know it’s not a mandatory charge, but it’s the voluntary tax we all pay for being waited on and served outside of our homes.

3. I’m not sure what was wrong but I’d like my money back. No, I don’t have any left.

There are customers out there who want to avoid any aspect of responsibility created by a purchase. Just three days ago, I was at a hole in the wall restaurant at a small airport in Oregon. I wasn’t too hungry, so I figured I’d order something small from the menu to share with my wife. Most everything on the menu was standard fare, burgers and fries, but I ordered the calamari.

I know, it looks delicious.

It was pretty bad, but what would possibly compel me to order calamari at a burger joint in the first place? It was a bad call on my part. You know what I didn’t do? Send it back. Why? Because I took responsibility for my ridiculous decision. I had a few more bites and let it go. We ended up ordering a slice of apple pie with ice cream, which by the way, was scrumptious.

So scrumptious.

Some customers lack the responsibility trait. I used to work at a cake shop and have had customers return their birthday cake with one slice left (and often no cake left) with an ambiguous statement like, “Too much flavor.” or “It was difficult to cut.” Because the company I worked for was awesome, we took care of them. There were definitely customers with valid issues, but occasionally it was just some clown trying to save 50% on the purchase price. “So, no one liked the cake, but you didn’t realize it until you were 24 slices in?”

Actually, it was Murphy who first pointed it out.

C’mon guys. Valid complaints help businesses improve and it’s always appreciated when customers have that intention. But some of you are thieves.

4. I know you’re required to be cordial and respectful since I’m the customer. Can I ask you a subtly inappropriate question about your life?

My wife worked as a server for a while at a restaurant in Vegas when she first moved to the United States. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management and has studied in England for about a year where she perfected her English (She’s originally from Ecuador). Despite being very well-spoken, she still has an adorable accent.

Most common question asked by customers?

“So how did you get into the states?”

And they asked it in a semi-whisper. You know. In case immigration was listening in.

Which they were.

I appreciate that people were truly interested in my wife’s history and were trying to engage her in some pleasant conversation. I just wish they had some tact. It’s uncomfortable enough responding that she’s happily married to a US citizen, could you imagine if she were actually here illegally? How could she possibly respond to that question?

I arrived via a plethora of piñatas.

Customers know servers are required to be cordial, so for some reason some believe that this is a good opportunity to ask questions that would be otherwise considered completely inappropriate. “Oh, you graduated with a degree in accounting? What are you doing serving then?”

Calculating how to ruin your day I guess.

Remember that just because someone is being paid to listen to your order, doesn’t mean that you should fill their ear with questions that are best suited to a counselor’s office. They have to act professional despite inquiries that make them uncomfortable, so don’t misinterpret polite laughter as an invitation to keep digging.

5. Wait wait… But it says one per customer. My 2-year-old daughter is making a separate purchase.

One of my least favorite class of dangerous customers are those that study the restrictions on a coupon with the intensity of Surya Rakta Chaitra.

Yeah, this guy.

You know those coupons you get sent via email that are something simple like “25% Off Your Purchase” and then have restrictions that are two pages long? You have this customer to thank.

I used to do marketing for a small local business. When I started, the stipulations were two sentences long, mostly “Some restrictions may apply.” and “Limit one per customer.” I quickly learned how to adjust to a class of person that is constantly trying to validate their attempts at cunning piracy. This is the same customer who walks out the door and back in to take advantage of the “one per purchase” statement. I know, you’ve found a loophole. It’s still cheating.

Nope, still you.

There are some pretty silly restrictions out there, and some are meant to misrepresent the value of the offer. Most however, are just trying to avoid getting taken advantage of by these guys. It might be true that you can interpret it to support your argument, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re trying to defraud an honest business.

I absolutely love customers, they’re the only reason businesses exist and the vast majority are absolutely awesome to deal with. As a fellow consumer, I try to be the kind of customer I would want to deal with, and it embarrasses me when I’m around patrons that have yet to learn how to deal with other humans in the client-server capacity. Those of us around them should really take a moment to remind them of the golden rule.

And here's a picture of Denzel Washington.

Three Forms of Self-Expression I’m Not Really Down With

9 Dec

I’m pro-self-expression. I love that I live in a society where I can say babies look like little old people and not experience any repercussions (minus the hateful looks from my wife). However, there are forms of self-expression that I find just don’t really do it for me. It’s not that I think you shouldn’t be able to express yourself, I just think it should stop being done in the following ways.

1. Tattoos

When I was 4 years old I had a favorite toy. It was a plastic Tyrannosaurus Rex that I named Bagel. I absolutely loved Bagel. Me and him were like partners in crime running ’round the house creating ruckus.

Tyrannosaurus Rex and me

Me and Bagel posing for the camera.

Fast forward 16 years and I’m on my first solo backpacking experience. I’m talking with a French Canadian outside a beach hostel about my incredible idea for a tattoo I’d like to get. I’ve drawn out a killer sunset over the ocean done in black in this crazy tribal pattern that I’d like centered on my back, and though I don’t understand a thing he says, I’m pretty sure my new French Canadian friend agrees that it sounds awesome.

Guess what you won’t find on my back today? A big @$*#ing tattoo of an ocean sunset.

Indiana Jones and Spiders

Also this.

The lesson here has everything to do with Bagel. Do you know where Bagel the plastic T-Rex is today? Do you have any idea where Bagel, the toy that I loved like a brother and would kill for if it were possible as a four-year old, could possibly be? No. And you know what? I have no clue either.

Jurassic Park T Rex

I'd like to think he's become a big Hollywood celebrity.

The fact is, we change. Our opinions change, our notions of “what’s cool” change, and our priorities and values change. Even really unyielding convictions change. I had immensely strong feelings for Bagel, and yet, here I am today writing about how he’s probably been reprocessed into tires.

Flashback to the beach house and I’m about to pull the trigger on my terrible decision before I asked myself, “Hey Max, do you think this will look as awesome in 10 years as it’ll look tomorrow?” Not surprisingly, the answer was a resounding no.

Old Wine Bottles

Your ten year old tattoo is not considered a vintage.

And guess what? I was right. I’m immensely proud of 20-year-old Max for deciding not to go through with it. He understood that even though surfing and sunsets were now the two most important things to him, like Bagel, he might lose touch with those priorities.

I have a friend that has three of his ex-girlfriend/wives’ names on his arm. THREEThe first two are crossed out. I can’t italicize that enough. He somehow managed not to make one poor tattoo decision, but three. He thought getting girl #1’s name tattooed on his arm was romantic, so he inked his arm up, and then the romance died. Cue second girl. She bothered him about loving the first girl enough to get a tattoo, so he had to get a second. Then the third girl followed suit, and he ended up with three names. It’s like he applied an old wives’ tale to important relationship decisions. Lightning never strikes the same place twice right?

Two lightning bolts


So it’s not that I don’t agree with tattoos. It’s that I don’t agree with their longevity. Some look awesome (and many look terrible), but there’s rarely something so unique and so powerful that I must announce it to the world permanently underneath my shirt.

There are of course exceptions. If a tattoo is meant to memorialize something timeless then by all means, this doesn’t apply. For the others, I don’t buy that you got the barbed wire because it symbolized the cage of your existence.

And just in case you think this isn’t a real story, here’s a drawing I keep to remind myself that no matter where I am in life, in 10 years, I will always look back and think I was an idiot.

Drawing of sunset tattoo

Please invent a time machine so I can go back and punch myself in the face.

2. Bumper Stickers

I’m not sure what it is about the bumper on a car that causes people to assume that it’s an appropriate place to have serious political discourse or borderline offensive remarks.

choking bumper sticker

Oh I get it! You're a serial killer!

For some reason, people feel it’s appropriate to say things on their bumpers that one would never repeat in a conversation with a stranger. Could you imagine if the next time you introduced two friends the conversation went like this?

You: Hi Rick, I’d like you to meet Linda, we’re old friends from Vegas.

Rick: Hi Linda, my child is an honor student at Green Valley High School!

Linda: Hi Rick, my Boston Terrier is smarter than your honor student!

Didn’t that feel awkward?

The thing to remember is, when you have a bumper sticker on the back of your car, it’s quite simply the first thing you’re saying to every stranger you see on the road.

way too many bumper stickers

This says, "I'm #@*$ing crazy."

And that’s not even mentioning the people you do know. Would you go around to every co-worker at the office and let them know that their support of their favorite political candidate is akin to treason? That’s what it sounds like when you silly glue your “Screw Liberals”/”Screw Conservatives” sticky note to the back of your windshield.

3. Dance

I’m totally cool with dance as a concept, especially by people who enjoy it enough to be good at it. But we start getting into some pretty funky areas when people use dance as a form of self-expression in situations that are probably not dance-friendly.

Dance fighting

During a violent brawl, for example.

I went to a music festival in Seattle that was pretty fantastic. I enjoyed the “sit down” style of melody as did most the audience. There were about 2 or 3 people in the crowd who couldn’t handle their excitement and just had to move their body semi-rhythmically to the beat. Every one of those people looked like they were trying to have sex with a ghost.

casper the friendly ghost

Which in this case, seems totally inappropriate.

I tried to focus on the music, but the weird hip thrusts were quickly becoming prominent in my field of vision and I ended up kind of watching that for the rest of the set. And what does that say about me?

squirrels playing cards

Some pretty strange stuff I would say.

I truly do admire people for dancing “like nobody’s watching,” but the fact is that most of the time, there are dozens of people watching. And I gotta say, you’re making us pretty uncomfortable.

guy naked and darth vader making woman uncomfortable

Yep, just like that.

So just remember, that chinese symbol for “pride” that you’re getting right above your crack is probably going to look like a mistake when your first-born hits 12. And remember that ironic bumper sticker about eating babies you put on your old Corolla? Yeah, your boss walks by that everyday. He’s trying to figure out how to fire you.

And the dancing thing? I’d appreciate it if you’d stop making me feel like such a damned square.

Feel free to disagree in the comments below. Yelling can be done in CAPS.

Four Awesome Problems to Have After Getting Freshly Pressed on WordPress

1 Dec

Yesterday afternoon I uploaded my second post to my blog and threw it up on Facebook to start awaiting the handful of views to trickle in. About an hour later, I received Willy Wonka’s golden ticket in my inbox:

“Congrats! Your post has been Freshly Pressed on the home page.”

Golden Ticket
Charlie knows what I’m talking about.

This sent me into an Internet induced tailspin that has given me some awesome problems to complain about. Here’s a brief description of what my Freshly Pressed experience has been so far…

1. You Will Call Every Person You Have Ever Known. Ever.

After contacting every one of my family members, I started scrolling through my phone contacts and texting every single person I know in alphabetical order. Ever wondered how to piss off your 7th grade english teacher at 1AM? Blow that phone up.

Math teacher at chalkboard
Nobody #*%$ing cares that I use comma splices!

For some reason, no one seems quite as enthusiastic as you, even if they are legitimately excited for you. And it’s not because they’re not totally hyped about your new found exposure, only that you’ve just snorted the internet equivalent of Scarface Brand Cocaine.

Scarface with cocaine
Perhaps he should’ve just started a WordPress site.

Then comes the moment you run out of people to annoy. Once you’ve exhausted your entire network…

2. You Will Do Nothing But Constantly Check Your Comments, Likes, Links, and Statistics.

I haven’t eaten for 17 hours. I can’t do anything but click between email, Facebook, WordPress, Twitter and my phone. Sixty minutes after receiving my first email from WordPress, I had almost 50 blog related emails waiting to be read in my inbox. And it’s awesome. I had a bunch of plans last night and I didn’t do a single thing because I was obsessively waiting for each individual comment and response.

Guy staring at paint drying
Define “a bunch of plans.”

After I saw the number of visits jump past the 1,000 mark, I suddenly realized I hadn’t planned for the next problem…

3. You Are Totally Unprepared for This Large of an Audience.

I originally wrote the article as a satirical look at my recent experience with the health care system (it’s all very true). So imagine my surprise when all the sudden I find that the post is actually hitting home for thousands of people. Now I’m reading and rereading my work with my new found text-induced neurosis and rewriting my “About” page like it’s my status update on Facebook.

Guy thinking hard about something
Wait… Is it “your” or “you’re?” Probably doesn’t matter, no one’s going to read it anyway.

My other big issue is that I just started writing last Monday. This means I have exactly one post other than my Health Insurance piece to offer this totally incredible audience. Two posts. I have a total of two posts.

Guy selling two beers
“Hey! I know everyone’s thirsty, but don’t worry, I brought these two beers!”

Regardless, you’ve updated as much you can, now it’s just time to sit back and enjoy the ride right? Welcome to problem four…

4. You Will Now Live In Constant Fear That You’ve Just Peaked as a Hobby Blogger.

You know those moments in life when you’re having so much fun you just have no idea how things could possibly get any better? This blogging hangover feels kind of like the day after those moments. You’ve just written about an experience that seemed to have a pretty big impact on a bunch of people, how are you possibly going to top that?

Screenshot of blogpost
Hint: Not with this.

You’re slowly getting bumped off the Freshly Pressed page and you’re getting fewer and fewer likes/shares… You start to wonder, “Did I just hit the absolute top of my game only five days after starting?”

K Fed Douche
Ask K-Fed, he should know.

And so begins the pity party.

In the end, it’s so absolutely cool of WordPress to float blogs of interest up where people can see them regardless of how long the person has been blogging or how many posts they have. I think it’s a pretty awesome incentive for anyone and everyone to just get out there and start writing, because you never know when an opportunity might arise that gives you the chance to be heard by thousands of people. I really appreciate WordPress for giving me that chance and of course all the  bloggers and readers who’ve shared a few minutes of their day to read a few thoughts from a fellow Interneter. I’m incredibly fortunate and lucky, because I know that there’s a randomness to it all. It feels like winning the lottery.

Celebrating with money
At least, what I imagine it feels like.

If you like the blog, make sure to follow up top! And if you’re into the “Twitter” you can always follow me at @MacsJF. I know, it’s shameless…

Thanks for reading!

Three Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Health Insurance

1 Dec

My experience with Health Insurance companies for the last five years has been mildly benevolent, in that I made sure to pay them X amount a month and they made sure I was covered if my feet fell off. Things went decidedly south about 6 months ago when I decided to, god forbid, move.

Stern Looking Doctor
“Perhaps you shouldn’t have moved to Oregon, hippie.”

I’ve learned a lot of crappy things about the Health Insurance Industry in the last few months, and I feel like a lot of it was avoidable if I had known just a few key pieces of information before making some health related decisions. I’d like to share those lessons with you now so you can dodge some of these complications and headaches in your future dealings with the Healthcare system.

1. Health Insurance Companies Want to Eat Your Family.

After moving, I called my insurance broker and let her know my new address in Oregon. She went ahead and did her magic, and a month later I received my bill. Surprise (was it though?), my new premium for my wife and I just about doubled from $270 to $499.96 per month. I wanted to make sure my new donations were going to a good cause (like paying for the CEO’s stripper mistresses) so I called their customer service to find out what the deal was.

Turns out I was now out of network, so my premiums went up accordingly.

Customer Service Woman
I’d love to help you, but I’m kind of busy with my modeling career.

That would make sense, except that the quality of my plan went in the other direction (down). Since I was out of network, the percentages the insurance company contribute towards my expenses dropped from 80% to 25%. The 75% I was contributing was now going towards a deductible that had also doubled from $1500 to $3000.

In all fairness, all the info’s right there in the 60 page document they gave me when I signed up. I should have chosen to be a bit more curious and it’s all pretty standard operating procedure stuff for health insurance companies.

Piles of Paperwork - Lots of work
It was filed alphabetically between “Screw” and “You”.

Fine right? No worries, just switch your insurance to a company that considers Oregon in-network… This leads us to lesson 2:

2. Don’t You Ever, As Long As You Live, Switch Insurance Companies.

Remember that one time you went to the doctor to get that insignificant thing checked out? I know, it wasn’t a big deal, but you’re going to have to include it on the application.

Remember that application for coverage you just sent in? Yeah, it got rejected because of that thing.

Last August, I ruptured my eardrum while Scuba Diving (because I make terrible decisions). I went to the doctor so that he could verify that I was an idiot, and then I was all done because this is an injury that heals all by itself like a cut. While we were there, we decided to check out an issue my wife was having which was some blockage in her salivary duct. I know, way too much info. There’s a reason I’m telling you though. The doctor suggested we get a CT scan to pinpoint exactly what’s going on, and then we went on our merry way.

Like the honest folks we are, we mentioned both events on our application to ODS with some assurance from our broker that he never sees anyone get rejected for such small issues.

We were both promptly rejected for coverage.

What blows me away, is that my wife is 26 and I’m 28, we’re both in good health (we stay fit, we don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t eat fast food, don’t have any chronic conditions), and we’re honest on our applications for coverage. What is the health insurance company looking for? I was rejected for a condition that was completely resolved.

Doctor looking in an ear
“I think I left my daughter’s tuition payment in there…”

We appealed the decision. I had to go back to the doctor so that he could verify that everything was fine with my ear (4 months after the accident) and I typed a 4 page document attached to the doctor’s chart notes to try and let the insurance company know that my ear was fine, and that my wife’s issue was a minor annoyance that occurred maybe twice a year.

They accepted me and rejected my wife.

We’re now going with the statewide insurance plan for my 26 year old healthy wife because ODS is not willing to cover her. This is the Oregon plan that is the failsafe for residents who cannot otherwise get health insurance.

We’re now in a bad position because we wanted to check out a minor concern with a preventative mindset (and we were already at the ENT Doctor) when we would’ve been better served just ignoring it.

This leads me to point 3…

3. Don’t Ever Tell the Truth About Anything, Ever.

Seriously. If there’s one take away from any of this, remember that everything you tell your doctor will get marked down forever on your chart notes. Some day, if you even get individual health insurance, when you’re arguing with the company about your claim, they’ll point to it and say you never told them, or alternatively, that it was a preexisting condition. So don’t tell anyone, anything, ever.

Black and white photo of dr. dre
Just don’t lie to this Dr.

I don’t actually know too much about the current state of the health care system, but I don’t think I ever realized how crippling the system is until I finally had to deal with a different side of it. I’ve always been healthy, employed, and stable, so this was never (selfishly) a concern to me. One of those things changed, so now I’m in a different boat. I’m very lucky that I have a variety of resources and a bit of income and savings to handle the complications, but I can only imagine how difficult this must be for someone in a different situation. How broken is a system when young healthy people can’t even get affordable health insurance?

My wife and I are incredibly lucky to be physically sound and capable, so I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for us. But I have no idea how people are dealing with similar situations who have actual problems that need actual care.

Clown Doctor - Humor
They go see this guy.

Knowing what I know now, I would be much more selective about what I would reveal to the health care system, which seems like a terrible solution to a ridiculous problem. I would rather risk my health by not getting something checked out than risk being denied in the future or seeing my rates jump astronomically.

Does that not sound crazy?

UPDATE (11/30/11 21:12): I’m incredibly blown away (sorry I keep using that phrase) by all of the comments! I’ve been a bit frustrated with my experience so far, but it’s certainly far more interesting to hear that it’s a commonly felt sentiment. And sad. Mostly sad.

It’s pretty striking that for such a developed country, we still have a healthcare system that seems to function pretty terribly, evidenced more by the disposition of the responses rather than the statistics you can find here or there. Originally, the post was meant to be a satirical look at what felt like a ridiculous situation, but I’m quickly finding that this story is hitting home for a ton of people, which again, blows me away. And again, feels pretty sad.

I started out trying to reply individually, but I’m quickly realizing that it’s a losing battle. Thank you so much for all the responses and I really appreciate everyone taking the time to read my blog, which I know is one of… Billions? I know there’s a lot of them, so I appreciate you spending some of your reading time with me. If you’d like to do it again sometime, please feel free to hit the follow button up top. Or alternatively, follow me on twitter, @MacsJF. (My apologies for the shameless self-promotion).

Thanks again!