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Archive for June, 2007

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Twelve Year Olds – Avert your Eyes!

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Hey, good news! I’ve been upgraded:

Online Dating

Interestingly, though, it wasn’t my use of an expletive in my previous post on this topic, it was the use of the Vice President’s name, “Dick,” in this post about his latest legal foibles.

So there you have it, kids: Curse all you want, but try not to discuss the Vice President in public. OK?

Categories: Blogging about Blogs | Comments Off on Twelve Year Olds – Avert your Eyes!

Before He Gets Started…

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Michael Moore’s newest documentary hype-machine, Sicko premieres this Friday. In the movie, Mr. Moore is going to tell us, through rather dramatic footage and hand-picked testimony from industry whistle-blowers that insurance companies are evil and exist only to screw over the American people. He was on The Daily Show tonight and told Jon Stewart that insurance companies are profit making businesses, and that the only way they can make a profit is by charging huge premiums and then not paying claims.

Well, before this turns into a “story with legs” and it becomes impossible to say anything about insurance that contradicts the movie, please allow me to share some of what I learned from five years of working in the insurance industry:

1) Insurance Companies Rarely Make Money Selling Insurance
Most of the time, insurance companies pay out slightly more in claims and operating expenses than they take in from premiums. Here are some facts:

The Insurance Information Institute:

Combined Ratio is the ratio of losses and associated expenses to premiums, reflecting the overall underwriting profitability of the company. If it’s below 100 (i.e., losses + expenses < premiums), then the company is making money from its insurance policies. If it’s more than 100 (losses + expenses > premiums), they’re losing money. You’ll note above that as of 2004, the industry average had remained above 100 since the 1970’s.

More sources:

The Motley Fool:
The industry’s average combined ratio in 2005 was 106.2%.

In 1995, the industry average combined ratio of 106.3% was the “best combined ratio in seven years.”

Carinsurance.com (speaking about all Property/Casualty insurance, not just car insurance):
The 93.2% estimate for 2006, if accurate, would represent the industry’s best underwriting performance since the 93.3% combined ratio recorded 70 years earlier in 1936 [and only the second underwriting profit since 1978].
[UPDATE, as of 9/5/2015:

Categories: Money Talk, Movie Talk, Political Rantings | 6 Comments »

Bulletin: Dick Cheney is actually *NOT* Dick Cheney…

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

OK, so Dick Cheney’s assertion that he’s not in the executive branch will rightly receive a ton of airplay over the next few weeks and months (years?), possibly replacing the “shot a guy in the face” line as the most popular disparaging remark about the Vice President. What can I say – he made his own bed on this one…

Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds, on the other hand, points out the funniest thing about the whole affair by far:

IMPEACH CHENEY IF YOU WANT, but do bear in mind that he’ll preside over his own impeachment trial.
No, really. The Senate has the sole power to try impeachments. The Vice President is the President of the Senate. He presides. The Constitution provides for only one exception in cases of impeachment: “When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.” That’s because of the obvious conflict-of-interest of having the VP preside when the President is tried. But there’s no similar provision for having someone else preside if the Vice President is impeached.

(Hat tip: Scalzi)

Categories: Political Rantings, The World Wide Weird | Comments Off on Bulletin: Dick Cheney is actually *NOT* Dick Cheney…

This Blog Has Been Approved for All Audiences

Monday, June 25th, 2007

OK, one more from Jason Bennion. My blog rating:

Online Dating

A “G” Rating? FUCK!!!

Categories: Blogging about Blogs | 1 Comment »

Growing Old with the Joneses…

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Quite a bit to comment on from Simple Tricks & Nonsense tonight.

Jason thinks Dr. Jones looks pretty good in this picture, taken this past week on the set of Indiana Jones, Part IV:

Indiana Jones – 2007

Oh yeah? Take a look at this eerily similar picture from 1989:

Indiana Jones – 1989

Arthritis. Why did it have to be arthritis? I HATE arthritis…

(still looking forward to the movie, though…)

Categories: Movie Talk | 1 Comment »

Find the Tie Fighter

Monday, June 25th, 2007

OK, a new internet quiz (hat tip: Jason Bennion)

Find the International Space Station in this picture:

Answer in the first comment below. No fair peaking!

Categories: Random Acts of Blogging | 3 Comments »

Dell to the rescue…

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Back in February, I bought myself a new PC which included the ultra-nifty 2407FPW 24″ widescreen monitor. When I get back to posting entries in the ISBS Tech Guide (shut up, I will so…), I plan to do an entire entry on this monitor. It is just that cool.

Anyway, last Friday, I’m on the phone with my wife and she says, “Oh, by the way, there’s a grey stripe down the middle of the monitor. You should take a look at that when you get home.” Turns out the grey stripe was a series of alternating 2″ lines of black pixels and working pixels running the entire height of the monitor, just to the right of center. Possibly dead pixels, but more likely some kind of power problem in the monitor itself, since the odds of so many pixels blowing out all at once (and in a repeatable pattern) are fairly low.

I called Dell Technical Support at around 10pm that evening. Here’s roughly how the phone call went:

Me: My monitor is broken (explains the black lines)

Dell: OK, please unplug it from the PC so we can verify that the problem is your monitor, and not your video card. Are the lines still there?

Me: Yes.

Dell: OK, is there another computer you can plug the monitor into, so we can verify that the problem isn’t related to the PC at all?

Me: I have a laptop. Hold on. (finds serial cable, plugs in monitor, lines are still there)

Dell: OK, let me confirm your address and we’ll send you a new monitor. It should be there within 5 business days.

That was late on Friday night.

The new monitor arrived at my house at 9:15AM on Monday morning. I plugged it in, tested it, put the old one in the box it came in, slapped the included shipping sticker on it, and called an 800 number to schedule a pick-up. On Tuesday morning, the old monitor was gone.

I was very impressed with this incident. The CSR on the phone asked me two very logical questions, ensuring that a new monitor wouldn’t have shown up and had the same problem as the old one. She didn’t put me through unnecessary tests (diagnostics, virus scans, etc.) that I’ve seen in the past as part of the standard operating procedure for other support desks. She also didn’t suggest that I send the old monitor back to a manufacturer for repair, pay some sort of service/shipping fee, or even leave my house to deliver the monitor somewhere for shipping.

Perhaps my only complaint was the 5-business day estimate, when in fact the new monitor showed up after 15 business minutes. I understand that delivery dates are hard to predict and they’re hedging with their estimates to keep me happy, but if the part in question was time critical (say, a hard drive rather than a monitor), I may have made contingency plans assuming a 5-day outage. Still, though, no one ever got fired for finishing their work early!

Support is typically a thankless business. It’s very easy for people who have had a bad experience to declare the company insensitive to its customers, while folks who have a good experience declare the company a personalized, free business center. Both parties can find supporting anecdotal evidence to reinforce their impressions (especially in the blogosphere).

At the end of the day, though, what impresses me is an efficient, customer-focused process, as opposed to a dedicated, proactive individual (not that both is a bad thing, of course). The former ensures good customer experiences most of the time; relying on the latter leads to a wide breadth of experiences, ranging from amazing to downright frustrating.

UPDATE: Ironically, it turns out there is one company that did announce a personalized, free business center today. :-)

Categories: Tech Talk | 3 Comments »

Remember when “Get Out of Jail Free” was a good deal?

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

The Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will pay Paris Hilton $800,000 to host her own Get Out of Jail party. Says Us Magazine’s source, “It was in the works and signed before she went to jail.”

But wait, there’s more. NBC will pay her a cool $1 million for her first post-jail interview with Meredith Viera on the Today show. She won’t talk to Matt Lauer, you see, because he made “disparaging remarks” about her. Poor thing…

And here’s the kicker: ABC is pissed off because Barbara Walters spent so much time schmoozing her mother, Kathy, and wound up with nothing for her efforts. NBC’s President & CEO Jeff Zucker sealed the deal with a call to her father, Rick.

I wonder if advocacy groups will be suing The Hard Rock and NBC for equal treatment when their clients are released from jail…

Categories: News and/or Media | 1 Comment »

The best rationale for gambling ever…

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

For reasons defying explanation, I get my hair cut at the local salon (where my wife gets her hair done). I’m currently sitting in the chair, waiting for the hairdresser, and listening to the following conversation between three women of, well, let’s say of a certain age…:

Woman #1: Yeah, she gambles so much, all the hotels in Atlantic City give her all this free stuff.

Woman #2: Really?

Woman #1: Yeah…

Woman #3: That’s OK, it’s better than giving all that money to a psychiatrist.

Interesting theory…

Categories: Random Acts of Blogging | Comments Off on The best rationale for gambling ever…


Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Today is apparently kid-blogging day here at I Should Be Sleeping. Check out this story about a woman in Illinois whose baby monitor has started picking up live video from the Space Shuttle Atlantis:

Since Sunday, one of the two channels on Natalie Meilinger’s baby monitor has been picking up black-and-white video from inside the space shuttle Atlantis. The other still lets her keep an eye on her baby.

Live video of the mission is available on NASA’s Web site, so it’s possible the monitor is picking up a signal from somewhere. “It’s not coming straight from the shuttle,” NASA spokeswoman Brandi Dean said.

Summer Infant, the monitor’s manufacturer, is investigating what could be causing the transmission, communications director Cindy Barlow said. She said she’s never heard of anything similar happening. “Not even close,” she said. “Gotta love technology.”

Gotta love it, indeed…

Categories: The World Wide Weird | 2 Comments »

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