Rick's Ramblings

You have found Rick's Ramblings, a Web Log.

I have been writing in this space for a few years now. Visit the archives to get a feel for my style.

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Email: rickumali@gmail.com

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Thursday, August 09, 2001
Today I got a note from my bank saying that I had entered $20,000 for a check I deposited into an ATM machine. The check was actually for $2000.

This is why I like making deposits with real tellers: I'm sure that would have been caught immediately.

A few days ago, when Jenn took Mia to the doctor's, the health insurance card (HMO Blue New England (Blue Cross/Blue Shield)) didn't work.

Today, I called Blue Cross to figure out the deal: it turns out that I was still covered under the health coverage of my previous employer! I was covered twice, which causes all sorts of problems when making claims.

The Blue Cross customer service representative walked me through this mess, and even made an on-the-spot decision to take care of one overdue payment to the physical therapist ($500!). I then called my old job, and raised this issue with someone in human resources. I was listed as a terminated employee, but I was still receiving health insurance benefits from them! The person I spoke with took care of this (she sent to Blue Cross a Change of Enrollment form via the employer's section on the Blue Cross web page).

I was all prepared for the bureaucracy to fail me here, but the two people who spoke with me today were courteous and very cooperative. It sure made me feel good to have all of this resolved.

Wednesday, August 08, 2001
At my company's fiscal year meeting (a company-wide affair that took place at the Sheraton in Nashua, NH), someone received a recognition award for being with the company 15 years. Amazing.

I admit that in my life now, I would love to look back on fifteen years at one company. 15 years from now, I'll be 48, closing in on my retirement. Mia will be 15 years old. And if a company could give me that kind of employment security, I'd take it.

Sadly, right now, I think I would be honestly surprised if I wake up on my 48th birthday, and still employed with Mercury. Instead, I'm working to stay employed from quarter to quarter, not because of any rumblings within the company, but simply because I have been "let go" once already. I'd like not to experience that again.

Monday, August 06, 2001
Today, Jenn and I put up our air conditioner. Whew! This week will likely feature five straight days in the 90s. Our house doesn't have central air conditioning. Every once in a while, I entertain thoughts of living in Florida (golf all year round), but the constant heat and humidity would be a big adjustment.

Sunday, August 05, 2001
Over the weekend, I finally finished Krzysztof Kieslowski's Decalogue, an epic film composed of ten one hour films, each film based (loosely) on the ten commandments. It took me nearly five months to watch all ten movies. Thanks to Netflix, I was able to 'rent' the two DVDs for all this time.

Somehow, I lost track of the exact impulse for why I decided to watch this 'film'. I must have been looking at film recommendations ("if you liked this, then look at this..."), and saw it there. Roger Ebert lists it as a "great movie". I would agree that this is a most impressive body of work.

Of the ten films, I enjoyed Decalogue V ("Thou shalt not kill") and VIII ("Thou shalt not bear false witness") the most.

V was a haunting, searing look at capital punishment, and that seems to be a theme I'm exploring this year (An American Tragedy and The Executioner's Song both deal with capital punishment). Petty crimes lead up to murder, and the murder in this film is particularly brutal and random. I won't be forgetting that painful execution scene, nor the defense lawyer's own anguish ("I abhor it! I abhor it!").

In VIII, a little Jewish girl during the World War II seeks refuge in a Christian safe-house, with the requirement that she have a Christian baptismal certificate. The girl is rebuffed by a stern woman who would not "bear false witness" by doctoring false baptismal certificates. Fast forward forty years: the little girl is now a woman, and she visits Poland to confront the stern woman (who is a professor of ethics), in a meeting of the minds that was wonderfully moving.

The other eight stories are no less compelling. All of the stories pose questions about God's commandments, but it was not a dry catechism-like treatment. Ordinary stories were dramatically portrayed with the commandments as a backdrop. The entire work is amazing, and well worth the effort to watch.