Lord, Is it I?

On a mission, you learn thousands of lessons that stick with you through the rest of your life.

One such lesson that I learned from my mission president was based on the New Testament account of the Last Supper.  During the event, the Lord informs his disciples that before the morning, one of them would betray him. Most of us focus on Jesus’ miraculous clairvoyance and wait in suspense for Judas to be named, and in doing so, gloss over an interesting and important verse that comes in between.  The disciples respond to their savior’s accusation:

And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?
– Matthew 26:22

The disciple’s response to their master’s allegation that one of them would betray him was not as ours might typically be.  If you were sitting around that table, would you have responded with “Is it I?” or would you have said, “Oooohh… who is it?” Would you have thumbed through the file folder in your brain labeled “People I know that might betray Jesus” or the one labeled “Stuff I’ve done that has betrayed Jesus”?

It’s natural for us to find fault with each other, but not good.  Somehow we are programmed at a young age to feel that the more we can put others down, the higher we will rise.  We are so worried with how well everyone else is doing that we sometimes lose sight of how we, ourselves, are doing.  Sometimes we even seek to remember someone we know is struggling so that we can feel better about our own comparatively small issues.

Finger pointing often becomes a team sport.  Can you imagine the Disciples breaking into a full-on Pick-a-Little-Talk-a-Little number, accusing each other of being the possible betrayer?  Or the whisper campaign theorizing who the traitor would be?

But, no.  Not the Disciples.  Their humble response to this disturbing allegation was: Is it I?

The lesson: we need to check ourselves first.  People living in glass houses shouldn’t cast stones even when they have more rocks in their hands than their neighbors.  When we are being corrected or taught something, especially when we think it was intended for someone else, we should examine ourselves. When we hear about divorce, do we dwell on the couple who is struggling, or do we consider the health of our own marriage?  When we hear about giving back, do we compare ourselves to the one who gives little or do we consider whether we are being generous with what we’ve been blessed with?

Outlandish Wants: My Friends Onkyo and Dyson

My latest Outlandish Wants are kind of lame.  I mean, I started big.  I started with a Tesla Model S, a product that represents the newest technology available, and costs a LOT of money.  Heck, the product isn’t even released yet.  If I had as much money as Elon Musk, I still couldn’t get a Model S.

As you can tell by this post, my outlandish wants have gotten a lot more tame and (shiver) domestic.

I’m going to start with my friend, the Onkyo TX-508.

This is one of Onkyo’s newest home theater audio and video receivers.

What is a receiver?  Put simply, it’s the part of the home theater that is responsible for processing the sound, but in recent years it’s also started processing the video signals as well.  Receivers have gotten very complex, especially with all of the surround sound capabilities and video technologies that are out in the marketplace.  My current Onkyo reciever is great; I got it refurbished for a really good price, it puts out nice sound, and has a lot of power.  Sadly, it doesn’t process video.  The end result and annoyance of this is that you have to use 3 different remotes to change devices on our home theater.  That’s a lot of buttons.  My wife still refuses to learn how to do it.

So… I’d like to consolidate some of the functions of those remotes, and getting this receiver will make switching between TV, Movies, PS3 (not mine, my brother’s) and other devices very easy, effectively eliminating one of the remotes to our system.

It’s not the flashiest new model.  It’s not top of the line (Tio), but it does everything I need it to do.

MSRP: $399.  Amazon.com: $269.73.  (I only need to scrounge $200 more into the TSF (technology slush fund) before I can justify this one.)

Item #2 is pretty embarrassing, but here goes…

I want a Dyson Vacuum.  These puppies suck!

See, at the WhiteEyebrows household, my wife typically makes me choose between cleaning the shower or cleaning the toilets.  I choose toilets.  She also makes me choose between vacuuming and mopping.  I choose vacuuming.

In my vacuuming escapades, my dissatisfaction has been growing with my Bissel Whirlwind vacuum.  On an empty canister with a relatively clean filter, it loses suction after about 1 full room.  It’s very annoying.  Cleaning the filter and emptying the bin usually makes me sneeze and spill dust right back onto the floor or into the air.  I need a better solution.

I give you, the Dyson DC25.

It’s a high capacity vacuum.  It never loses suction, has no filters that require cleaning, and has a canister that is easily emptied.  Everyone I know who has a Dyson loves their Dyson, but for $500 they’d better love their Dyson!!  I could spend less for a fully functioning computer or airfare to an exotic island (two things I value a lot more than completely clean carpet).

But my dissatisfaction with Mr Bissell has brought me to the brink of purchasing this radically overpriced sucker!  The Bissell has lasted me 5 years.  I’m sure I could find a new home for my old, semi-working Bissell.  What is a man with expensive tastes to do?

MSRP: $599  BestBuy.com (Refurbished): $357.05.

Truth be told, Mrs Brows has already approved the purchase of the Dyson – I just can’t yet bring myself to pull the trigger.

Convince me, please.

iPad, iPhone, iProblem

“Smaller iPads Due Later This Year”

Uhh… don’t they call those iPod Touch?

And what’s going on with the “grip of death” problem and possible recall from Apple with the iPhone 4?  Has Apple lost its way?

Would Apple ever do a recall of any of its products?  No.  They are way too arrogant for that.  Heck, they should just give out the “bumper” with every phone and call it good.

One thing’s for sure, someone’s in big trouble in the industrial design department.

Why is Apple compromising product functionality in the name of design?  Oh wait.  It’s Apple.  Dr Ive and the Design Gods rule.

Come to think of it, Jony Ive resembles another evil doctor we are all familiar with…

Not a good month for Apple (except for that whole selling somewhere around 10 million units and making billions of $).

Mom’s Job

For the past 17 years, my mom has worked as a medical biller.  She started with an eye doctor, but now works for a family doctor.  She is a living, breathing, day-to-day witness to the insanity of our health care system.

She’s always telling me absurdities about insurance billing practices and the archaic systems that surround them, and it just cracks me up sometimes.  Only a few years ago, Medicare went to electronic billing.  Before that, everything was submitted as a paper claim and a paper check.

One little known fact about our health care system is related to how Medicare pays doctors.  Each year, the Medicare payment tables are approved by Congress.  These payment tables determine the amount that Medicare will pay for each service a doctor might perform on a patient.  All of the insurers look to Medicare as a standard on how much a medical service might be worth.  Some insurers will pay more for a service than Medicare, so the Doctor’s job (the Medical biller’s job) is to charge as much as they can reasonably expect to collect from the BEST insurer for any particular service.  This is what contributes the most to the explosion of the bottom line of medical bills.

But I digress.  One little publicized fact is that Congress has delayed approving and publishing the Medicare payment tables for 2010 when they came due in March.  They called a moratorium during the health care debate, and approved doctors to continue to use the 2009 tables through June.  In June, when congress still hadn’t acted, they stopped making payments.

What was Congress waiting for?

Turns out, for the last several years, Congress had been kicking a can down the road.  Medicare was supposed to be decreasing the payout for each service by a certain percentage every year, to help drive down health care costs.  However, Congress just kept approving the Medicare payment tables each year without decreasing the payment amounts.  Now there is a HUGE discrepancy (15 – 20%) of where payment rates are vs where they should be.

Congress failed to act in time, so the department of health and human services released new tables which now pay dramatically less for each service.  Meanwhile, doctors have not lowered their fees due to the “good” insurances still paying higher amounts.

Bottom line?  Doctors will colllect much less this year from Medicare than they did last year, while still billing record amounts.

Why is this not covered in the media?  I dont’ know.

Meanwhile, I stumbled across this hilarious Podcast on NPR Planet Money which describes my mom’s job to a T.


[audio:http://www.whiteeyebrows.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Planet-Money_-The-Pain-In-The-Butt-Index.mp3|titles=Planet Money_ The Pain-In-The-Butt Index]