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Roku, and gardening

Whew!  Finally a chance to sit down and do some mind-numbing activity, like posting a blog.  *Grin*  Hubby’s doing great, I’ve found a distant cousin through Ancestry and am in the process of helping her solve a longstanding family adoption mystery (it gave her a definite road to explore once we verified we were blood relatives), and I’m busy putting together a spring garden.  We decided this year to try raised beds, an idea we settled on when we found lifetime guaranteed USA made metal corners from raisedbeds.com, which are used to construct whatever size beds you want by supplying your own lumber.  We purchased two sets of 12 inch tall corners to construct a bed, deciding on 8 feet by 2 feet for the first one.  Using the square foot method of gardening, I had 16 squares to plant after adding soil, lining the bed with leftover solar screen I had from creating window screens, using that as heavy duty weed block.  It worked REALLY well, so much so we purchased more corners and crafted a bed that was 8 feet by 3 feet, creating 24 squares for plants.  That’s what I finished planting today.

Here’s the 8 X 2 foot bed, which is planted with white onions, cherry tomato, bush cucumbers, red onions, broccoli, carrots, Parks whopper tomato, a jalapeno pepper, more red onions and white onions, more bush cucumbers, a golden jubilee tomato, a cajun bell pepper, extra broccoli and spinach.

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Here’s the 8 X 3 foot bed, which is planted with regular peas, 2 kinds of snow peas, 2 kinds of okra, turnips, Mortgage Lifter tomato, swiss chard, red onions, pie pumpkins, 2 Cherokee purple tomatoes, a bell pepper, watermelon, carrots, red cabbage, cantaloupe, spinach, 2 kinds of summer squash, Brandy Boy tomato, Super Sauce tomato and 2 kinds of bush green beans.

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Keeping my fingers crossed that everything will grow well, and will keep weeds down to an absolute minimum.

Now, onto Roku.  If you’re not familiar with it, it is a streaming device.  An AWESOME invention, at least to my minimally technically savvy perception.  You see, before we had cable and internet through one company, and usually ended up paying approximately $120 a month, or more, depending on the number of movies on demand we ordered over the course of a month.  Sure, we had a huge amount of channels to choose from with our “package”, but the majority of those we NEVER watched.  I don’t need 14 channels of golf, or tennis, or rap music, or the jihad channel, thank you very much.  For approximately $89, on sale, we purchased the Roku 3, which is the top of the line HD streaming device they offer.  Did I mention there is NO monthly fee?  If you decide to subscribe to other channels that carry a monthly fee through Roku, that is your choice.  The number of free channels is mind-boggling.  We did subscribe to Netflix for $7.99 a month through Roku, which gives us the option of watching unlimited movies, TV shows, etc, that they offer.  Since I was an Amazon Prime subscriber for $79 a year, I also have access to a section of free videos, movies, TV series through Amazon.  (The price is going up to $99 a year, which I will not continue the subscription to once it expires–can’t see the return on investment at $99–sorry).

Roku has worked out well.  We cancelled our cable TV subscription and just kept the internet, which meant our bill went from $120 plus a month down to $35 a month.  Huge savings, and more flexibility in what we watch, when we watch it, and absolutely no commercials.  I purchased an indoor antenna to capture local channels, but even that is becoming obsolete.  I cannot recommend Roku highly enough.  The free channels alone (classic movies, horror movies, cooking shows, youtube, exercise channels, etc) are worth the purchase price.  Go to Roku.com to get more info on the device, as well as channels they offer.

Well, I’ll cut it off here–a pot of turkey tortilla soup needs my attention at the moment.  :-)

I don’t understand the mindset of businesses nowadays.  In the past, billing was one of the most important aspects of business.  Payments would come in, accounts were updated, statements sent out, etc.  The timeliness of that process was key to keeping things running smoothly.  Apparently for some, that is no longer important (and by some, I mean many).  Take the following for examples:

We received a bill from the ER doctor from the visit in November.  Insurance had paid their portion, discounts had been applied, and the remaining balance was our responsibility.  I went online to their website the day I received the bill and paid it in full with a credit card so it would post immediately.  Six weeks later we receive another statement saying they were waiting for us to pay the bill.  I go online–our account no longer shows on their website.  I check the credit card statement–the payment is listed, and I already paid the credit card balance in full.  We call their billing department, and they verify that yes, we had made the payment and we should not have gotten another statement.

Another bill arrives from some testing done in November.  Insurance has paid, etc, etc.  They do not have a website, so I send a check via snail mail to them paying the balance in full.  Five weeks later we receive another statement requesting payment.  I pull up my banking statement and the check cleared the bank two days after I mailed it.  I call them, they verify we paid, there is no outstanding balance and we should not have gotten a bill from them.  (These are two separate billing entities, not the same company).

A bill arrives from one of the cardiologists in the hospital.  It has the total amount, a courtesy discount since we didn’t have insurance, and the remaining balance to be paid.  WTF?  We call, and the billing department can’t understand why we received such a statement since our account clearly shows we have insurance, and an insurance claim had been submitted and is being processed.  They said to disregard that statement and we should receive an updated one shortly.

The real kicker?  We received the hospital bill that’s just shy of $94,000 before insurance.  That doesn’t include doctors fees, but covers room, procedures, lab tests, medications, etc.  Insurance paid, discounts applied, and we have our final amount.  I go online to pay.  They ask for the account number, DOB, etc.  The online site cannot find the account.  ARGHHH!!!  I’m HOLDING the bill in my hand, you’d think the information would have already been entered and checked for accuracy, right?  After re-entering everything three different times, I pull out the checkbook, write a check and send it snail mail.  They’ll get it when they get it.

What is wrong with this picture?  Worst case scenario would be deceptive billing practices, although the most likely culprit would be laziness and not giving a damn.  I understand mistakes happen, but one after another and all from different entities?

And people wonder why businesses fail…

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