PSA: USAA Phishing

Just a warning to my friends out there who have USAA…

I woke up to a very good phishing email this morning. If I’d been just slightly less (or more?) caffeinated when I read it, I might’ve done something stupid.

It read something about needing to update my profile, so please click on the link.

I’ve gotten those from USAA before.

It had the Security Zone, but it didn’t look quite right. And the graphics were just a wee bit (and I do mean wee bit) fuzzy. The address at the bottom of the email also wasn’t the traditional San Antonio, TX address.

That’s it. Those are the only things that clued me in that it wasn’t right and proper.

I’ve sent it along to USAA. I trust that they’ll get it shut down. But in the meantime, do be careful, and spread the word.

Categories: Around Town, Home, Work | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Changing the Rules

Debate is a sport. It has rules. The rules are spelled out very clearly in many places, and in my one class, we were given very clear references to exactly what rules our debates would be held according to. We were even recommended to watch examples of such debates.

I still think that having been on speech and debate team for several years in high school gives me an advantage.

The big debate still isn’t for a month, but we had mini-debates this past Saturday in class. They were somewhat informal and just pitted campus against campus on some fairly simple topics. Almost no one had done a lot of research, but the 45 minutes we were given in class was plenty of time to pull things together.

My campus was given the affirmative of the question, “Resolved: The United States healthcare system is the best in the world.” Most of us could barely read that aloud with a straight face, but we had to defend it. After everyone else started groaning and saying there was no way we could do it, I said, “Exactly, so we change the rules. Redefine ‘healthcare system’ so that it becomes ‘diagnosis and treatment of disease’. Then show how the US does that better than anyone else.” And we were off to the races.

The team debating the negative never saw the switch we pulled and failed to redefine “healthcare system” back to anything else. They showed up ready to play soccer. We substitued a football and proceeded to pick the ball up and run with it while they were still trying to kick it in a straight line towards goals that had suddenly become uprights.

In addition, no one else knew what to do with their alloted time for cross-examination. I did. And given the debate set-up, ours was the second debate, and I was the last to cross in our debate, so no one else could take what I did and turn it back on us (at least not this week). Everyone else would ask a question, then let the person responding meander on and on, often not even answering the question and using up all of the time given for cross.

My cross went something like this:
You mentioned obesity. The US healthcare system does a fantastic job of treating the end results of obesity. Do you disagree?” “Well, no, but we need to educate…“*interrupted*
Thank you. You want to prevent obesity with education, but we do that already. Are you going to force people to eat the proper foods and exercise?” “Well, maybe we should…“*interrupted*
I see you want to remove the ability of people to make choices in their lives. You also mentioned the infant mortality rate in the U.S. Do you realize that this is at least partially due to women choosing to give birth at home with inadequate medical attention and untrained midwives?” “We need to educate them and make them go to hospitals…“*interrupted*
So you want to tie up all the pregnant women and throw them into ambulances to make them give birth at hospitals?!?” “Well, yes, we should.
I see how you really feel about people’s medical choices in the US.

My time ran out shortly after that, but I was later told that the line about tying up all the pregnant women and throwing them in ambulances will probably go down as the best line said during class this semester.

Categories: Health, Humor, School | Tags: | 4 Comments

Health Care

It’s that time of year again… No, not when the days get shorter (ok, they are). No, not when the weather gets colder (ok, it is). No, not when the stores start putting out the Christmas decorations even earlier this year (and yes, they are).

It’s time to sign up for health insurance. In past years, it’s been easy. I just looked at the options my hospital gave me, made sure I didn’t pick the stupid choices, and *boom*, I was done.

When I got terminated at work due to the disability in February, I had to venture into the marketplace to find my own health insurance. It was a bit stressful, but it was a lot cheaper than paying COBRA costs, and it was accomplished without tearing out my hair.

It’s actually been more stressful having the insurance, because no one seems to understand that it’s individual insurance (not group insurance), so they send the bills to the wrong address (despite the correct address being right there on my card), the insco says, “We’ve never heard of her. DENIED!” and then whoever tries to bill me for the entire amount. Pretty much every single medical bill since February.

I figured it might not be too bad to renew my health insurance today. Just check the marketplace to be sure that nothing much had changed and proceed.

But wait… My state no longer offers any Platinum plans. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

The next best option is the Gold plan, with my same insco (because none of the others cover my main docs), which is almost exactly the same plan as I have now for exactly (to the PENNY) premium every month.

With one small exception.

My deductible goes from $750 to $1000. And my out-of-pocket maximum goes from $1500 to $6850.

Yes. For no savings in the monthly premium, my deductible increases by 1/3 and my out-of-pocket increases by over 350%. I hit that $1500 pretty fast this year, too. Not looking forward to next year.

Thanks, Obama.

Categories: Health, Politics | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Please Don’t Fling Me in that Brier-patch!

The culmination of one of the classes I’m currently taking is a formal debate on a current topic in public health. We were given a long list of topics to choose from, to rank our top four or five choices, as to what our interests would be for debate topics. From there, the professor was going to pick the top four and assign each of us to a topic and to a side of the topic (affirmative or negative). And she had warned us ahead of time…NO SWITCHING.

Needless to say, I ranked all of the topics to do with firearms as my top choices.

The list of topics and teams was handed out yesterday.

The topics are:
— Community programming and education should be increased to address overweight/obesity;
— School-based violence prevention programs should be used to prevent bullying;
— Texting and mobile phone use while driving should be banned; and
— Firearm registration and licensing of firearm owners should be restricted to reduce firearm deaths.

I’m on the team which is to debate on the negative of the firearms topic.

Please, please, don’t fling me in that brier-patch!

Categories: Firearms, Politics, School | Tags: , , | 1 Comment


It was a day when everything stopped.

I’ll never forget that morning, 14 years ago. Few things can bring the daily business in an ER to a screeching halt, but the pictures on the TV that morning did. Even the patients and their parents were glued to the TV screens in the rooms, minor (and some fairly major) complaints forgotten. Everyone horrified, near tears. It took several hours before things got back to normal, and even then, every TV was tuned to the news for the rest of that day and for several days after.

I don’t think the world is a better place today, despite all that the government keeps trying to do for (and to) us. I don’t think it’s safer. I don’t think tomorrow is brighter. I don’t spend every day obsessing over the future, but I do try to make plans for it, because I don’t think what’s coming is going to be pretty.

But I’ll never forget that morning and how everyone came together for a time.

Categories: Politics, Wonderings | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Be Careful Out There

I spent a good bit of this holiday weekend on the road. Between the BF’s car trouble and heading downstate for lunch with my parents today, I ran up several hundred miles on the interstate.

I have never seen so many police on the roads in such a short period of time. NEVER. Both in number and in type. I even saw state highway patrol sharing pass-throughs on the interstate with sheriff deputies and with local police, as if there weren’t enough places for them all to sit.

I know it’s a holiday weekend. I know they’re cracking down on drunk drivers. But 2pm on Friday? 10am on Labor Day? C’mon.

Even better was all of the drivers’ reactions to all of the police cars (and motorcycles!) on the roads. Every single cop sighted meant massive brake lights across the freeway, even if he had someone pulled over on the other side! I think the best was an obvious speed trap…4 Motor Carrier Enforcement SUVs (they’re a different color than the regular highway patrol cars), each one with an 18-wheeler pulled over, all in a line on the side of the road. Just about every single blessed car heading south slammed on his brakes.

The speed trap? On the northbound interstate.

Categories: Around Town, Humor | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Mandatory Gear

I have decided that there is something that I need to get to make my graduate school experience complete.


Given that the majority of my classes are online or via videoconference, I feel that attending classes in fluffy bunny slippers will make me smile and make my day complete when I have to be up at an ungodly early hour (for me) to participate in these classes.

And my feet will stay nice and toasty warm.

Categories: Humor, School | Tags: , | 1 Comment


Things have changed a lot since I went to college some *mumblety-mumble* years ago. Back then, I took a desktop IBM PC with an amber monochrome monitor, 2 of the 5.25″ floppy drives (no hard drive), a dot matrix printer, and no modem with me. It took a handcart to move it all. Now, it’s all laptops and tablets, lightweight and easy to carry.

Email from the program ahead of time said that we’d definitely need a laptop for classes, and that while either a PC or a Mac was ok, one of the required programs for Biostats was not compatible with Macs. I sort of made faces at that, as I’ve gone completely Apple in the past couple of years, but I pulled out an older PC laptop and got it all upgraded and ready for the first day of class…

Only to find out that the stats program does work on Macs. It’s just a little trickier to install, but once installed, it runs just fine. So I have everything running on both a PC and a Mac.

Come the first day of class, and everyone is linked in from home, listening to our Biostats prof go on. He starts showing us how to use the program R. Half of the class panics in the chat box because they couldn’t get it installed and working at all! He offered a few tips but said that he needed to continue the class (it’s recorded, so people could watch it again later) to at least get all of the info presented.

6 or 7 of us managed to set up a meeting time for yesterday to see if we couldn’t get R working on their computers. It ended up with me bouncing from chair to chair around a table, installing R on about 6 computers there (and then one more over the phone, because one of the campuses is downstate). We ended up with all but one of the computers working! And now everyone thinks I have some sort of magic computer-fu…

Categories: School | Tags: , | 1 Comment

First Day of School!

Ok, so sort of not really… But it was the first day of real content delivery.

The program that I’m in is for a Masters of Public Health. It is designed for working adults, for the most part, to allow them to obtain the degree while having a full-time job. The core courses (2 each semester for 3 semesters) are on Saturdays, and there is no expectation that we will all complete the degree at the same time. In fact, our class designation is by the start date, not the graduation date, so I’m part of “Class of 2015”.

The core courses, while being taught to all 30 of us together, are still very much mainly self-taught. The majority of the Saturdays are designated as “online”, meaning that the lectures are prerecorded and that I can listen to them at any point during the week. One class has a quiz (2-3 essay questions) due every Friday; the other has either homework or a quiz due once a week. Most everything is open book, but in order to get things done in the time constraints for the online quizzes and homework, you do have to have read the assignments. Self-motivation is going to be a big factor.

Electives will be different, as they’ll be regular grad school courses. My first one of those starts next week. It’s a regular classroom course, though I think a lot of my electives will end up being online courses, too. Easier to take courses at some of the further campuses when they’re online so I don’t end up driving hours and hours each semester.

Today’s class was one of the few “live” lectures, in that we logged in to a videoconference with the biostats prof. He had wanted everyone to have downloaded and installed a stats program so that he could spend half of the class teaching us how to use it, but about half of the class either didn’t have it downloaded or couldn’t get it installed. (Part of the problem is that it doesn’t play well with Macs, but there are work-arounds.) Several of us were typing in the chatbox with tips about how to get it working when one of the girls sent out a plea for “anyone who got this working on a mac, would you please be willing to sit down and show me how?”

Somehow, this ended up with me agreeing to meet with 6 or 7 classmates tomorrow afternoon to help them get their computers set up and squared away. Oh, well…best way to learn something is to teach it, right?

Categories: School | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Knock… Knock…

Wow… I still have a blog! Dunno if anyone’s still listening or not, but hi!

School has started. Finally. I’ve got to quit all of the running around and visiting friends and having fun blowing off responsibilities that I was doing all summer long (hey, why not? one last summer free of responsibility!) and buckle down now.

I’m taking 3 classes to start. Two of them are the “required” core courses that I’ll be taking in concert with everyone in my class; the other is an elective. Public health in general seems to be rather oriented towards social justice and the ideals espoused by the left. It’s going to be interesting to see how I fit in (or rather, how many ripples I stir in the pond).

On the first day, the program director wanted each of us to give an interesting fact about ourselves as we were introducing ourselves to the room. I chose to share that my hobby is long-range target shooting. I figured I might as well put that on the table, right up front. I’m pleased that no one shrieked or fainted. And when the girl next to me said that she has a 3rd degree black belt in judo, the program director said that she wasn’t going to be afraid with the two of us around. I’m thinking this maybe won’t be so bad after all.

Of course, then I open my biostats textbook, and right there in the introduction, the author starts using statistics about deaths from firearms in his very first example. *sighs* It’s going to be an interesting couple of years.

Categories: Humor, Long-term Goals, School | Tags: , | 4 Comments

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