instagram roundup | may, june, july


Because I got my new camera during this period, I was taking more “real” pictures, so pure instagram posts were a little sparser. but Sadie the cat is ever present, as are some travel-related pics and some minor clues as to my political leanings.

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instagram update | september


september was a lot of apples, apple pie, and in a strange irony or coincidence, both madonna (the sacrilegious one) and the pope showing up in town. and other random assorted stuff. In an even stranger turn of events, no cats.

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instagram – march roundup, and some complaining about apple


Not a lot of photos in March, due largely to the fact that it was still bitterly cold and unpleasant around these parts. I was also dreading the inevitable update apple was launching that would finally depreciate Aperture and foist Photos onto all of us, which happened this weekend. It’s pretty terrible. I was willing to deal with the “less functionality” aspects, given that it was really an iPhoto replacement and not an Aperture replacement (although they chose to discontinue Aperture with the launch as well), but the number of things that got broken either as a result of the upgrade/installation or just don’t work as said is kind of ridiculous. I’ve had to tell my parents to hold off on upgrading their computers, because I fear the repercussions of having the less tech savvy members of my family deal with issues that have been giving me agita for the past several days. In no particular order…

– Even though every piece of written material about Photos indicated that it would copy your existing photo library and leave your iPhoto or Aperture library where it was, my Aperture library disappeared after the migration – when I opened Aperture, or when I tried to access the Aperture library from iTunes or the finder, it was as if it didn’t exist and I had zero photos. I finally found it this evening after a day and a half of searching, and had to essentially manually reconnect it to Aperture to get my photos available again in that application.
– I refuse to use iCloud for photo storage for a variety of reasons (first, I have too many photos and don’t want to pay for storage, second, there’s no option to selectively upload or to selectively hold back photos, and I have stuff i don’t want in the Cloud), so I continue to rely on iTunes syncing to keep my photos in sync across devices. It took a dozen syncs to get my entire library back on my phone. It would sync part of the library, behave as if it was done, and when I checked my phone, only a portion of my pics had transferred.
– I understand not having the full panoply of Aperture editing tools, but it doesn’t have any ability (yet, at least) to link to third-party editing software. If you want to edit, you have to cumbersome-ly export, edit, and then reimport.
– You can no longer add watermarks when exporting photos – this was an extremely handy feature in Aperture, where you could save a preset export setting, that would save a preferred size as well as watermarking options, so I could hit export and it would automatically format the 20 or 50 or 200 photos I wanted to upload to my website in the right size and include my copyright bug embedded in the bottom corner automatically. For the photos below, I had to download a separate piece of software, export the photos, and then add the copyright bug separately. Again, significantly more time consuming and cumbersome.
– Simple functionality things like not being able to change the sort order of photos, or to view with the most recent photos at the top rather than at the bottom (there seems to be a menu option, but it’s always greyed out).
– photos on a white background with no ability to change it to grey or black, or to add a border to add contrast (I have a white screen on this site, but I very intentionally use a black border on my pics because it causes additional color contrast).
– and on and on and on…

I’m sure people will come up with workarounds and whatnot for all of these things, but I’m seriously contemplating reverting to Aperture (now that I’ve finally found my library!) for the time being. My biggest concern on that front is that I know, at some point, that Apple will push out some supposedly innocuous security update that will irretrievably break that far superior software now that it’s been end-of-lifed.

So – march photos.

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Weill Cornell’s billing office is the ninth circle of hell – updated


[update] after I posted the lengthy rant below, the billing department resolved the problem to my satisfaction. They still haven’t been able to locate the payment, but the quality control supervisor got involved after the last go-round of errors and agreed that the missing money should no longer be my problem to deal with, so my account has been cleared up. I do actually hope they find the payment, but now it’s entirely on their end, and their problem, to resolve.

It’s been some time since I posted a real blog post, and even longer since I posted something that wasn’t purely photographs, but I have a rant that I need to get out, and its really too long for twitter. For the last year and a half, I’ve been seeing a doctor affiliated with Weill Cornell. She’s great. that’s not the issue. The particular reason I’m seeing her is not the issue (and it’s not a serious health issue, but I see her every 2-3 months, which is important to note). The issue is the Weill Cornell billing department, which I think is now just trolling me.

Short note – last year my office switched to a high-deductible health plan with a health savings account. It’s kind of annoying, but we’ve all gotten used to it at this point. One of the “features” is that, instead of paying a co-pay during your visit, you owe the entire balance of your bill until you hit your deductible, but only the “insurance company negotiated rate”. Once you’re bill has been submitted to the insurance company and the insurance company discount has been lopped off, you can (in theory) go to the insurance company website and pay the balance you owe your doctor from your HSA directly from the insurance company website (You can also use a debit card to pay for things, which in hindsight is clearly the better option).

I did this with ZERO problems when I paid my bill in August for my June visit.

Then I had an appointment in August, and paid my bill the exact same way in September.

Then in October, I got a nasty letter saying I hadn’t paid my bill and that I was in danger of being sent to collections. Thus begins the saga. I go to the HSA website and get all the payment documentation, and fax it in to the number on the bill (because, of course, there’s no email).

I then follow up with a call on Monday. Of course they didn’t receive my fax. They give me an email address, which begins the email saga. I email the documents. There’s no evidence they received the payment. They claim the account number on the payment info is wrong. Doesn’t matter that its the exact same info as the August payment that they received. Doesn’t matter that it’s the exact same payment record info that was used to apply the insurance company discount. Doesn’t matter that the info has detailed information that includes: My name, my doctor’s name, the date and time of my appointment, my insurance info, the exact dollar amount being paid. It’s lost in the system.

This goes on for about a month, and on the Friday after Thanksgiving, I get a call from a supervisor, basically demanding more documentation. My HSA folks are actually really good and send even more documentation, including a trace they ran on the payment, that shows exactly when Weill Cornell accepted and deposited the money into their accounts. Still no joy. But at this point, WC has decided to put a freeze on this particular bill because clearly I’m not a deadbeat. Clearly they recognize I’ve made some sort of payment and they need to track it down. Part of the issue also is that there’s only so much money in my HSA, so it’s not like I can just pay the bill again. Nor should I have to, because, you know, I’ve already paid it!

So far so good, right? Not so fast.

In the meantime, I went to see the doctor again at the end of October. So I ask the billing office during one of our interminable calls trying to sort out the issue, not wanting to be a deadbeat, how do I make sure that I can pay the bill for my October appointment when it arrives and not have the payment misapplied to the frozen August visit? I’m told very specifically that the best way to handle this is to call the office and pay by phone, so that I can explain the situation.

Done – I do this on December 22nd (the day before my December appointment), specifically directing them to apply the payment to my OCTOBER visit. The only reason I waited so long was that I was hoping that they would have sorted everything out by then, but they didn’t.

Today I realize that it’s been a while since I’ve gotten any update on the August mishegoss, so I send an email requesting a follow up on what’s been done over the past month to track down that missing payment, and this is the response I get (some items redacted):

Good Afternoon Ms/Mrs. Dow,

I apologize for the delay in getting a resolution for you. We have confirmed with [HSA] there has been only one payment of $XXXX issued to Weill Cornell Medical college from your account. The payment of $XXXX was received and applied to your account. However, was applied to date of service 10/20/14 in error. We have correctly applied the payment to date of service 8/19/14.

The total amount due on the account is still 2x[$XXXX] for dates of service 10/20/14 and 12/23/14. The next invoice will be run this month and will reflect the current charges.

Once again I apologize for the delay and the misunderstanding, If you have any further questions please feel free to call me at [redacted]

You see what they did? They took my correctly applied payment for my October visit, wiped out the record of my payment for that visit, and applied it to the supposedly “frozen” August visit, assuming that was the missing payment. Nevermind that it was an entirely new payment made months after the original payment for which they have about 18 different forms of documentation, made following THEIR instructions so that it specifically wouldn’t be misapplied. I was speechless. So now, the fact that the August bill was frozen/disputed has been wiped from the system, and they’re charging me a second time for October.

I was about two seconds away from sending a response that was nothing but a series of “WTF”s. My actual response was not much better, although it did use words, none of them qualifying as vulgar. The CAPS LOCK key was not so fortunate.

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atlanta | 365:148-150


Had to take a little work trip to Atlanta Wednesday and Thursday. No actual photos of Atlanta proper, given that I was in windowless conference rooms in a suburban office park, but this should give you a sense of the excitement of my trip.

This photo was actually taken on Tuesday night. It was me setting my alarm clock for 3:30am so that I could catch a car to the airport for my 7am flight. Yes, I hit snooze when it went off.


My hotel room at the end of the day. The hotel had clearly been recently renovated, and they did a pretty nice job. It was an all-suite Hyatt, and I had a living room and a bedroom (bigger than many NYC apartments!). Too bad I didn’t get to really enjoy it with just crashing for one night.


And finally, this was what the jetway looked like about 5 minutes before we were supposed to board the plane to head back to New York. Not promising. The plane actually showed up a few minutes later. The most fun part (meaning not fun) was that it was a completely full flight, so even though I had packed a completely compliant carry-on, by the time my group got called for boarding, it had to be gate-checked together with the bags of a bunch of other passengers. And unlike every other time I’ve ever had to gate-check a bag, they actually sent them all to baggage claim, where they were the very last bags off the plane. Annoying.


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i think this may be progress | 364:085


The contractors appear to have finished ripping out most of what they were going to rip out, and the drywall arrived today, so i think this is progress. Not sure they’re going to be done quite on schedule, but it should be hopefully far enough along to be able to move back in by mid-next week while they finish up details (provided the new tile and such actually arrives tomorrow).


In other goings-on, today was a complete clusterf*ck, transportation-wise. This morning I got on the 1 train only to realize I was sitting across from some guy jerking off. I was tempted to post his picture on hollaback, but I didn’t have the energy, so I just moved. Not an auspicious start to the day though. Then, on the way home, AFTER the doors shut on the shuttle, the conductor announces that there is no uptown service on the 1, 2, or 3 trains at all, due to a “sick passenger”. If I had known BEFORE I got on the crosstown subway shuttle, I could have just gone back upstairs and hopped on the bus, but no. We were trapped. Which meant I had to trek almost a mile underground in the most ridiculous transfer that exists from the shuttle to the C train in Times Square.

So I tweet about it, and, of course, this is the response I get from the MTA: Apologies. We had a young man killed while on the tracks tonight. A bad commute for you, a horrific tragedy for his family

which is awful, and now I’m clearly the worst person in the world too. Since I’m already going to hell, I responded that maybe it wouldn’t be so horrific if they had done something to address this issue the last 1000 times that it’s happened. For some reason, they didn’t respond to that one.

How was your day?

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carbonator | 365:054


Empty carbonator for my dearly beloved sodastream. Between the last time i swapped one of these out and now, the company has apparently decided to discontinue offering mail-order exchanges (I guess they’ve reached what they consider to be a critical mass of retail availability). Which means instead of conveniently ordering a replacement online, waiting for it to arrive and then packing this thing up and dropping it off at the UPS store about 3 feet from my apartment on my way out to do other things, I now have to drag this several blocks away to the closest store that even theoretically carries the large canisters, hope they have the right size, exchange it in person, and then drag the replacement home. It’s not really a big deal, except for the fact that I have to make a special trip for this, as i certainly don’t plan on dragging a giant canister of “contents under pressure” around with me (empty or, god-forbid, full) all day while I do other stuff.


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015/365: queensboro plaza


Went to a party in queens tonight for some friends who are moving out of town. I had a lot of fun, and a lot of wine, which is probably not a good combination with blogging but…whatever. The biggest issue was getting out there. It’s normally a pain to get out there from the upper west side, since I have to go to Times Square and essentially double back on the N train to get to Astoria, but tonight was just classic. Apparently, the MTA decided that the N train didn’t need to run between Times Square and Queensboro Plaza, so, after finally discovering the signs indicating as much, I trekked over to the 7 train, to go to Queensboro Plaza, where I could pick up the N “shuttle” to Astoria Blvd. When I FINALLY got to QP, I stood waiting for the N for about 20 minutes, with about 150 other people. After said 20 minutes, they finally announced that we really needed to be on the downstairs platform. There were no signs anywhere indicating this. So all 150 of us raced down to the lower platform to hop on the train, which proceeded to sit for another full 20 minutes. So that was fun. All-in-all, it took me about 90 minutes to get there.

Needless to say I took a car service home. Which took a total of 20 minutes, including dropping someone else off first.

Photo is from my long wait on the OUTDOOR platform in queens.

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365:113 (nook! (fail))


Finally got my nook today, and it was very exciting. until, of course, the latest software patch got uploaded automatically, and apparently killed my ability to access one of the features called “the Daily”. Luckily, this is the least essential feature because it only relates to B&N updates and magazine subscriptions, and since they haven’t actually offered most of the newspapers and magazines that I’d even want, it’s, at least right now, not very important to me. Doesn’t mean that I don’t want it to work forever though! Which is why I spent 2 hours this evening on hold to get through to a digital support person who, after listening to my issue and talking to his colleagues, informed me that I had stumped them (go me!). They’re going to try to replicate the problem, and if I haven’t heard back from them in 2 days, I need to call back and they’ll either have a solution or they’ll have to send me a new one.

But in the meantime, I can read books, and since I’m using calibre to side-load all the newspapers and magazines that I wouldn’t have access to because B&N isn’t actually offering them yet anyway, I’m not losing (much) functionality in the interim.

Product launches are fun!


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365:110 (empty promises)


I (or really my dad) preordered a nook for me with an expected ship date of December 11. Latest update is that they “hope” to get it to me by the 24th. In the meantime, I got my cover last week and it’s making a nice display case for the nook-sized piece of styrofoam that fits inside.

I think my favorite part, of course, is the fact that they’re obsessively insisting that they’ll get it to us by “christmas”. That’s cold comfort for those of us who, um, celebrate other holidays. other holidays that ended at sundown tonight.


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