Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Busy, Busy, Busy.

I'm going to post more soon, but life has me running faster than I thought possible.

Here's the basic rundown:

Job going great.
Ex making life difficult.
Son doing wonderfully.
Woman I'm dating: fantastic.
Stress: High (understatement)

On top of that, I'm moving today, and it's going to be rough.

Be back soon.

The Health Insurance Debacle

The Ex told me a little over a week ago that she lost her job. She told me in a matter of fact fashion as I picked up my son, just as I was about to get in my car. I asked her what happened, and she said that the company was doing poorly, and would be going out of business soon. I have no idea if that’s true, and really have no way of finding out. The only way it would matter in any case would be if it were due to a decline in her mental state.

I don’t like to be a person that counts their blessings in light of other’s misfortunes, but this would have been much more of a problem for me if the divorce were not final.

Under the agreement, my Ex is responsible for maintaining health insurance for our son. Obviously, when she lost her job, she lost her health insurance, which means that my son lost his coverage also. The timing was lucky. I had not finished the enrollment process for benefits for 2006, and the deadline was quickly approaching. I told her that I could put him on my insurance, but she said that she had something worked out already. She explained that she was looking into state coverage for him. This didn’t seem like a good solution compared to having him on my insurance, but I decided to go and compare the plans. I won’t go into the specifics, but my opinion is that the state coverage is very good, but not as good as regular coverage.

When I spoke to her on the phone I told her I thought he should be added to my coverage. She explained that she’d think about it, but that she was eligible for Cobra coverage. This was a much different position than she originally put forth. There are several problems with this solution from my standpoint. Cobra coverage is expensive. Very expensive. She’d have to pay for both herself and my son until she found another job, assuming it had health insurance benefits. My concern with this is the possibility (which is low, but I don’t want to risk it) that I’ll be responsible for half of the cost of covering my son under Cobra. I asked her how she was going to pay for the coverage, and she told me that her father was going to pay for it. I don’t feel that’s fair to him. I don’t even know if he even knows she thinks he’s going to pay for it or if she was just saying that to put me off.

I had to finish enrollment within several hours, and I had a decision to make. I told her that I was going to add him to my coverage just to be sure he had coverage. I would cover the cost myself, and it would save her and her father a significant amount of money.

She then told me the real reason she didn’t want me to do this. She said she wanted to provide the health insurance coverage because she didn’t trust me. She thinks I’m up to something. I’m not sure what she thinks I’m going to get by doing this, it might be nothing. In my opinion it’s just another example of the paranoia.

I had to make a quick decision, so I told her that I was going to put him on my insurance. First she told me she forbade it. I told her that I understood that she didn’t like it, but that I felt it was more important to make sure he had coverage. She told I didn’t have her permission, and I replied that I didn’t need it – we have joint custody. She was furious, and told me she “didn’t approve it”. She implied that she would be looking into legal action and then she hung up.

I knew she wasn’t happy, but I didn’t feel I had any other choice. I also felt I was being very nice – I was going to cover the cost myself, and I take the top coverage, so she wouldn’t have any real cause for complaint from that standpoint either. It would also save her and her father a lot of money. I figured I was on pretty solid ground from a legal standpoint. I was going above and beyond what was required.

I came home on Sunday night to find that a certified letter had been delivered to me on Saturday. It was from the Ex. Basically, on the day after I told her I was putting our son on my health insurance, she wrote up this letter. It stated that we were well beyond the court-ordered date for me to have my belongings out of the condo, and that if all of it were not out by December 4th she would be filing a Motion for Contempt. I don’t remember a specific date being assigned, but I could be wrong. She finished the letter by stating that she wanted the name and phone number of the person at my company who handled health insurance so she could call them and get on some kind of mailing list for changes to the health insurance.

This gives me a little less than a week to get the stuff out of the condo. In that time, I’m moving and have a visitation day. She knows this. What it comes down to is that she’s retaliating against me for putting our son on my health insurance. Never mind that I’m paying for it, it’s saving her a lot of money, and I’m willing to move him back to her insurance once she gets it. She thinks I’m up to something, and nothing else matters.

I wrote her back an email, saying that I got the letter. It was quite long, and I brought up the insurance situation and said that I didn’t understand why she was so angry about it. I also said that I felt she was retaliating against me for putting him on it, despite the fact that it was helping her out. I said a lot more than that, but I wasn’t rude, and I didn’t make threats. I finished by saying that I have been more than cooperative, and that I couldn’t stop her from filing the motion. I hoped, however, that she would work towards greater cooperation instead of causing me more problems than she already had.

Stress? Yeah, I got it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

More Dates

Time is a commodity in short supply for me right now. The last few days have been pretty interesting, however. I got a call last night from a friend who was one of our (the Ex and I) mutual friends. From what I understand, she was one of the few people who would take her calls, until this last weekend. It's been brewing for a while. She'd told me in the past that the Ex was driving her crazy, but she didn't want to cut off contact. No longer. The last straw came this last weekend. The Ex called her and started complaining, and she'd finally had enough. She started pushing back on the Ex's complaints, and the Ex lost it on her. The last straw was actually over a birthday gift. The Ex basically told her that she'd sent out a batch of vitamins to her for her birthday, but that she (the Ex) was only covering part of the cost. Our friend was being told that she had to pay for some of her own (unasked for) birthday present. She should send the check out soon. Well, as you can imagine, she (my friend) was not too happy with this. My friend ended up telling the Ex off in this argument, and compared some of the Ex's behavior with the Ex's mother's. My Ex's mother is a paranoid schizophrenic who was committed for a while, and this is a very sore spot for the Ex. She has no problem criticizing and condemning her mother, but if somebody points out that she's doing the same types of things, she gets extremely defensive. I was told that I am a constant source of suspicion for the Ex, and this last argument was no exception. One comment I thought was particularly interesting was that the Ex claimed that she suspected I was seeing women. My friend told her "So what?" The Ex seemed to feel that if I was dating somebody that it was some kind of "cheating" situation with her. My friend warned me to never, NEVER mention that I was dating to the Ex.

Speaking of dating... The second date went really well. We went to a furniture store. We were there for about four hours. Sound exciting? Well, this particular furniture store has an ice cream shop, a Fuddruckers (which will actually open next month), a trapeze school and an IMAX Theater. We went and saw the third Harry Potter movie there. The third date also went well - she invited me over to her house for dinner, but we ended up ordering out instead of cooking it, and that turned out to be a great idea. There's a Thai restaurant right down the road, and it turned out to be fantastic. She hadn't had Thai before - I have now made a convert. We're going to get together again tomorrow night for dinner again and maybe to watch a movie. It's nice to be dating again. Although I've been on my own for over a year and have dated a couple of women I still find that my behavior has still not returned to normal. It's really strange that during my marriage I never noticed how the Ex's paranoia was affecting me. For example, I find I still worry about talking to women (any women) when I'm out with a woman. The Ex, if I spoke in any way to a woman, suspected that the woman and I were having an affair. Once, while taking a walk through the center of town, a woman pulled up next to the Ex and I and asked for directions. I gave her the directions and she drove off. The Ex, furious, was sure that the woman and I were having an affair, and that I'd arranged to meet her there. Her asking for directions was just our cover so that we could see each other. This wasn't really jealousy, it was paranoia. She honestly didn't see any flaw in this accusation. As a result of things like this, I tense up slightly if I have to talk to a woman, half expecting to be flayed alive by my date. I'll suddenly realize that my date isn't going to get upset at me for saying "Thank you" to the woman who sold me the movie tickets and relax. Someday I hope that behavior will completely disappear.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A First Date

Not too long ago I wrote that I was putting my profile back up. It didn’t take long. I was emailing back and forth with somebody, I’ll call her Curly (for her hair). We emailed back and forth a few times, and we decided we wanted to talk on the phone. The first phone call was pretty interesting, because we talked a little bit about our respective experiences on match. My experience has been pretty positive, but hers has been just the opposite. Her first three months or so on match she did not get a single wink or email. Very few men would respond to her winks or emails. She told me that she felt like she was getting run over by a truck because it was so hard on her ego. I can’t blame her for feeling that way. I thought about it, reread her entire profile and looked at her pictures again. I just can’t understand why she wouldn’t be flooded with interest. I got the opinion of a couple other people, and all told me that they thought she looked good – both her pictures and what she wrote. Most women get (literally) about five times as many profile views as men, and get a LOT more winks and emails. The only explanation I can come up with is that there was something wrong with match.

Anyway, we decided after a couple of times talking on the phone that we should meet, and we made a date for last night. I left from work and we met at a restaurant about 7 or 8 minutes from there. I got there first, and I waited in the vestibule for her to arrive. When she did, the first thing that came to mind was that her pictures do not do her justice.

We sat down at about 6pm, and for the next four hours we sat there and learned about each other. It was a lot of fun because we have a lot in common. She’s a Physician’s Assistant, a type of practitioner I used to call on when I was a pharmaceutical rep. At one point she was describing an absolutely horrible first date saying something along the lines of “he just sat there across from me, doing nothing. He didn’t talk at all. It was terrible, and it didn’t help that I just didn’t find him attractive”. I jokingly said “This sounds a lot like this date”. She blushed and said “No – that’s not a problem. You’re very handsome.” At this point even a chimp would know that the date was going well.

It came time to start heading home, and I had an hour drive ahead of me. We walked out and before we left she gave me two very nice goodnight kisses. It really was a great date.

A few people I work with knew I was going out on a date. I had told them about the last first date I had, and they had all gotten a good laugh about it. Today I was sure I was going to get asked about it, and I knew it wouldn’t take long for the chanting of “Erasmus and Curly, sitting in a tree…” to start. Engineers are not often accused of having a sophisticated or subtle sense of humor. It was a busy day, however, and only one person asked me about it. No chanting.

I’m expecting a call from her in a few minutes, and we’re probably going to go out on Friday night. Tonight, though, I need to catch up on my sleep.

For Karla

Karla -

Just following orders here. Here are the plans for the "treehouse" I'll be building for your son. Part of your requirements were that I not steal or destroy anything while I'm there, so all stealing and destroying are being conducted in Missouri. Being Missouri, I doubt that anybody will notice that we've stolen the Control Tower from their "international" airport.

I wanted to point out a couple of things for the treehouse here. First, there is no actual tree involved. The hydraulic lifts can simulate the year by year growth of a tree if you'd like, but they're mainly there so the platform can be raised high enough for somebody to be thrown to their death in an execution situation. The cushion, of course, will have to be removed in order for this to be accomplished. Knowing the juvenile male mind as well as I do, I've included some features that your son (and perhaps husband) will appreciate. The Tower will provide an excellent overview of the entire area. When your son is young and in the "Cootie" stage, girls can be spotted and eliminated (by using the sniper station on top of the tower) at a distance that far exceeds the maximum distance for Cootie transmission. Occasionally a stray girl might make it into the compound - the holding cell can provide a safe area to sequester said girl until the extent of contamination is known. As he gets older the tower can be converted tto use as a lookout for any and all parents, especially of a visiting girl, giving sufficient time to get dressed. Should a girl's father possess ninja skills and make it close in before being noticed, there may not be time to get clothes back on. That's where the trapdoor comes in - escape may be made safely in this situation. The helipad doesn't have many uses until the teenage years, when it can be used to ferry in alcohol from neighboring areas in bulk. I have labeled the sky and ground so that, even in your normal drunken state, the plans may be read with ease.

Construction can start as soon as perimeter fencing has been set up. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 05, 2005

100 Paragraphs About Me, Part II, 7-14

Part I

After an epic legal battle, Karla and I have worked out a payment schedule to cover her fee. I am now sent after other people who owe her money. Not to hurt them, but to hang out with them. A couple of hours with me, and they suddenly decide to pay up.

7. I was an underachiever. This might not surprise any of you who have read the “Teenage Criminal” posts. When I moved to Florida I discovered first-hand how much different the school system is there from the one I had been in here in the Northeast. I did fine in 6th grade, but starting in second grade my grades started to slip. By slip I mean that I could count on passing gym every grading period, but not much more. Every so often somebody would slip up and I’d pass some other stuff, but it wasn’t often. I was advanced to the next grade every year.

8. I was (and continue to be) an overachiever. When I came back to live with my father I had just finished the first quarter of my junior year in high school. The school I reported to took one look at my transcripts and immediately called a conference. They had no idea what to do with me. I was sent to a couple of evaluations, including an IQ exam of some sort, and they decided to take a chance. Florida had (I don’t know if they still do) a rule that if you had more than three unexcused absences from a class you automatically failed it. Since that rule doesn’t exist here, they took all of those courses and made them D’s instead of F’s. They probably weren’t supposed to do that. I went beyond their expectations and became a high honors student.

9. I have had many nicknames over the years. Let me list some of them: Yankee, Florida, Roman, Safety Boy, The Chosen One, and most recently, Pony Boy. Yankee was my nickname in Florida, Florida was my nickname in the North. Roman was truly and idiotic nickname, given to me because my hair stuck up in a Mohawk one day – and we all know the Romans all wore Mohawks. Safety Boy was bestowed on me by my sister-in-law because I insisted that everybody in my canoe wear their life jackets. She’s also had several non-family-blog type of nicknames for me over the years. The Chosen One – well, that one deserves a post of it’s own. Check back soon. Pony Boy: If you’ve read the last few posts you know that one.

10. While I am not a perfectionist, I am close. When I work on a project that will have my name attached to it, I tend to work hard to make sure it’s top quality. I made a dvd of video and pictures of my son, and one of my relatives didn’t believe I had done it until I showed them the project on my computer. Back when floppy disks were still the only form of software delivery I had so many that I built a couple of carriers for them. They were made from wood and when other computer people saw them they drooled. They held three rows of disks and I had sanded and stained them both. They were stolen (without the disks, which the thief dumped out) several years ago at a computer show.

11. Insult me at your own risk. I have a quick wit and a vast enjoyment of verbal sparring. It’s even better if somebody is trying to be malicious, because then I can really cut loose without regrets.

12. Pianos fear me, and with good reason. Several years ago I came into possession of an upright piano. It weighed about 1500 pounds and really wasn’t in the best of shape. I found out through some research that it was only worth about $250. It came time to move, and I decided that it was time to get rid of it. I offered it free to local schools, music students and anywhere else I could think of. There were a few who seemed interested, but only one guy decided that he wanted it. He said he’d pick it up one morning, and showed up in a hatchback. Needless to say, he didn’t take the piano with him. The Salvation Army and Goodwill do not really want pianos, and have a list of rules concerning them. They will not take them if: there is a single scratch, there is even one step between where it currently is and the truck, if it’s out of tune (which is funny, because you are supposed to tune it if you move it) and if it weighs more than three hundred pounds. How many three hundred pound pianos are there out there, anyway? The end result is that I had to take this piano apart using a sledgehammer, ax, chisel and various other implements of destruction. Quite a crowd gathered, and at one point the cast iron harp tried to attack. I dodged and finally finished it off. Pianos now tremble in my presence.

13. A few selections from the bookshelf next to my desk: Atlas of the World, Atlas of Internal Medicine, The Complete Dog Book, The ARRL Handbook, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Patriots of the Revolutionary War, The I Ching, Animal Tracking and Behavior, The Quotable Dad, and Where is the Mango Princess?

14. This would fit into my “I Was A Teenage Criminal” posts, but it’s too short. My friends and I decided to build a treehouse, despite the lack of suitable trees where we lived in Florida. We realized that we needed wood, so one night we snuck onto a big construction site and completely dismantled a storage shed. We left the contents of the shed sitting on the ground next to where the shed had been. It was a good thing we didn’t brag about it because we heard a few days later that one of the employees of the construction company lived in our neighborhood. We never did build the treehouse.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I Must Have Swallowed A Kazoo

Today I am a Goose of the Apocalypse. My voice decided it wanted a vacation and it started on it’s way this morning. Right now I sound like a goose that swallowed a kazoo. Several of my coworkers were laughing at me when they weren’t threatening me to keep me at a distance. Were I a smarter man I would have charged them to stay away.

Tonight I didn’t receive threats of bodily harm to post from Selmathena, but from her golem Canagal. Canagal is the proof that Sara can actually reanimate flesh.

And, if you’ve been reading the comments, somebody (who shall remain nameless for her own protection) saddled me with the nickname Pony Boy. Pony Boy is apparently a character from the movie The Outsiders, which I’ve never seen. While I’m told that Pony Boy is a very masculine character, the people telling me this might be toying with me. I’m sure they would like nothing better than for me to start strutting around with a new nickname, only to find out he was some real lowlife stool pigeon. These people are known for their questionable habits.

So, this post has really gone nowhere tonight. Clearly my writing ability is directly linked with my voice. This post is the written equivalent to the honkings of the deranged goose I mentioned earlier. Hope you all didn’t waste too much time on it.