Snippety Snippets Vol. 1

1 Comment

“What, shall a child instruct you what to do?” ~William Shakespeare (King Henry VI, Part 1, III, i)

Welcome to a new segment of the operationUNunhappy blog that I’m calling “Snippety Snippets.”  Yes I know it’s the season of giving and light and red-nosed reindeer, but – admit it – it’s also the time of tried patience and shopping fatigue and please-let-there-be-alcohol-in-that-eggnog.  If you haven’t looked into the price of plane tickets for an escape holiday trip to the Caribbean at least once, you probably are in the minority of revelers out there.


Don’t get me wrong – I’m not anti-Christmas at all.  I think it’s really cute the way my nephews start behaving noticeably sweeter in the weeks leading up to the big day, with thoughts of red-suited deliveries on their calculating little minds.  A few years ago, I really got into the spirit when I bought a purple (yes purple) faux Christmas tree for my house.  I like hearing a good Victorian carol song, and I look forward each year to my annual holiday screening of ‘Love Actually’ with a good cup of cocoa.  And I really do enjoy the rare occasion when I come up with just the right gift idea for someone.

But that being said, I know I’m not the only one that thinks this over-extended, over-commercialized, bank-account-draining time of the year is a little trying on the nerves. Add into that mix the misery of cold and flu season and the insanity of cedar fever here in central Texas, and pretty soon the patience wears pretty thin for all things even remotely irritating.  (Google ‘cedar fever’ if you’re not familiar with it…it’s the miserable annual price we pay each winter for living in Austin TX and what puts the city at #1 on the list of worst allergy cities in the US.)

So I thought I’d indulge myself with this Snippety Snippets segment to be able to just vent about stupid little mundane things that have annoyed the crap out of me lately.  Don’t you just want to be able to say what’s really on your mind sometimes?? 


I have the feeling this will actually be very beneficial in terms of my UNunhappy level, so here we go:

  • Last Wednesday, SIX days after Thanksgiving, a female co-worker cheerily wished me “Happy Thanksgiving!” while I heated my lunch in the microwave.  This was a first for me.  I’ve been Happy New Year-ed up to several weeks after the actual day, which is also annoying, but for some reason this much-belated post-turkey sentiment was especially weird and should not be allowed.  I didn’t say it back to her but rather gave her a sideways suspicious look while mumbling “thanks.”  The stores have had Christmas decorations in the aisles since before Labor Day, no one cares about Thanksgiving after the actual day; move on, lady.
  • Everyone knows you don’t mess with perfection.  A few weeks ago I went to pick up my to-go dinner of chips & queso from my favorite taco place, only to find out once I got home that they’d completely changed the recipe.  They’d added in humongous chunks of red and green bell peppers and extra long pieces of slimy onion, which were not part of the plan prior to that.  Once I fished out the offending newcomers, there was hardly any actual queso left in the container.  And what was left tasted all bell peppery and oniony, blech.  So much in life is changing all the time – is it too much to ask that you just let the queso be, favorite-taco-place-of-mine?  Or is this a sign from the universe that I should stop eating queso?
  • People who yawn with their mouths uncovered right in front of me in the Starbucks line (or any line, anywhere actually) so that I then have to move into your plane of yucky yawn breath air:  STOP IT.  Is your arm broken?  Are you completely uncivilized?  I get that you’re tired and haven’t had your caffeine yet, but yawns should be considered the same as sneezes and coughs in my book – cover with your arm or hand and spare the rest of us the view of your silver filling collection and leftover yawn breath.  Gross.


  • This one is for any woman who has ever visited any public restroom, especially one in the workplace/office:  this is not your bathroom at home.  We have to share this space multiple times a day with you.  So if you decide you just have to fix or brush your hair while in the bathroom (and why didn’t you do this at home before you came to work?), finagle your neck muscles to actually look down at the vanity/sink area before you leave.  See all that hair you left behind in the sink and on the counter?  No? Look again, it’s there, all over the place.  CLEAN IT UP.  Quit being such a slob.  (This point can also not be stressed enough regarding any substance of any kind you left behind on the toilet seat when you were performing bathroom acrobatics in order to avoid coming into contact with the actual toilet surface; spend ten extra seconds to actually look down before you leave and make life more pleasant for the rest of us by cleaning it up, thanks.  Guys, you are so lucky.)
  • Healthcare.gov… *sigh*  Still unable to enroll after a month of trying.  Can’t talk any more about it or my head may explode.
  • The 170 people who move to Austin EVERY DAY – please stay off Mopac and 183 as much as possible, you are making a horrible traffic problem much worse and your slow rubberneck driving is going to give me a stroke before too much longer.  Just please move downtown and find a job that you can run to on the Hike & Bike Trail so you don’t have to drive anywhere, thanks.  And – did not you not hear about cedar fever before you made the decision to move here??!  Bring lots of kleenex and allergy meds with you, you’ll need them.

Ah, well, I guess that’s all the snippety snippets I have for now.  I feel much lighter now, thanks.  (Maybe it’s because I haven’t had chips and queso in two weeks…)

How about you, anything you want to get out there off your chest and into the universe?  Go ahead, get snippety, let us know in the comments section.  We won’t judge you.  We get it.  Oh and Happy Holidays!

À la prochaine!

Ant Kristi



“He doth me wrong to feed me with delays.” ~William Shakespeare (Titus Andronicus, IV, iii)

Last week I finally took the plunge into shopping for health insurance through the infamously inoperable http://www.healthcare.gov marketplace website.  I already waded through the world of health insurance woes back in June when I quit my job and had to buy a private/individualized plan.  Texas is one of the states that refused to set up state-run networks, so we have no choice but to go through the federal marketplace.  I think I will be able to get a subsidy to assist me with one of the new insurance plans due to my much-reduced income now, but that’s only if I can actually manage to enroll.

Yup, I’m one of the masses of people who is stuck in the healthcare.gov snafu.

The website let me create an application and I entered in all of the multiple pages worth of required information.  Then I signed electronically and submitted it, but had to step away from the computer for a while.  When I logged back in later, it told me that my application was incomplete and asked me to re-enter all the same information I’d already entered earlier.  Yet in another link on the site, it told me my earlier-submitted application had been received and was complete.  It said I had to view my eligibility results before I could shop for a plan, but when I clicked on the link to do so, nothing happened.

So, I re-entered all the required information again. Five more times, actually.  Because each time, when I got to a certain point, it took me to an error screen saying the system was down and to please try again in 30 minutes.  I’d wait that amount of time and try again, only to get the same message.  I finally clicked on the Live Chat Support button and was instructed by an agent named Jacob that he would take note of my frustrations and concerns (really?), but that to get any actual assistance, I needed to call the support phone number on the website. (Apparently their Live Chat option really is meant to just chat, rather than help.)


“Temporarily,” that’s funny.

So I called the support number, and after going through the automated phone tree that couldn’t understand anything I said (and refusing to complete a customer survey at the end of the call), was hung up on before even getting to a real person.  I called back again, this time agreeing to complete the end-of-call survey (hmmm), and lo and behold a real person finally came on the line.  Shaneece listened to my situation and then told me “Ma’am it’s because the system is down again, mine is too.  In order to proceed you need to clear all cookies, bookmarks, and browsing history from your computer, then restart the whole machine, or else it won’t even think of letting you do anything.”  Huh?

Nothing on the healthcare.gov website had even mentioned cookies or browsing history being an issue or a recommendation if having problems.  But, I did what Shaneece recommended.  And nope, it still didn’t work.  Nine hours later, I was still getting the same error message and was still unable to view my eligibility results.  In 2013, the most technologically-advanced time in history, it looks like I’m going to have to go fill out a paper application at a help center, turn in it, and wait weeks to hear back on what plans I might be eligible to enroll in.  Which I still probably won’t be able to do online.  I may even have to go hunting for an actual STAMP at some point in time (do they still sell those?).

Yup, this is about right. (From US News)

Yup, this is about right. (From US News)

Many of you probably also saw a recent news story about a few guys in California who, in a matter of HOURS, created a completely functional website (www.thehealthsherpa.com) that would let anyone instantly compare premiums for the different health insurance plans available through the marketplace, as well as find out how much of a subsidy you might be able to get.  Very few can even get past the initial bugs in the federal site to view this vital information, but these guys were able to throw it together in less than a day’s time and it actually works all the time.  You can’t enroll for a plan on their site (YET), but you can do your plan shopping and get all the pertinent information you need to then try to somehow enroll through the government’s archaic system.  Why in the world aren’t these guys being employed by the government (and paid lots of deserved money) to make the main site WORK?  Baffles the mind.

I’m not one of those people who gambles on not having health insurance.  But then I’ve never really had to worry about it until now; I was always lucky enough to have it provided through my employer for the past twenty years.  It amazes me to run into people my age who decide to run that risk though; the last few months, I’ve encountered quite a few of them.  And I realize it is a significant cost; I guess if you can’t pay for it, you can’t pay for it.  But in the land of healthcare-cost induced bankruptcies, it’s too scary to me to not budget for it and make sure I have coverage for that just-in-case scenario that may pop up as I get older.

One of the most frightening aspects of quitting my job six months ago was the thought of not having employer-provided benefits.  Deciding to cut loose that safety rope (noose?) was extremely difficult, but it was my choice all the same.  I must reap the consequences, but I also believe that there should be other realistic and affordable options for people who want to break free and try to make it on their own.  Isn’t it ironic that we shake off the suffocating company ropes just to then be metaphorically strangled by constrictive government red tape through a system such as healthcare.gov?

red tape

I’ve worked for all levels of government in my life: local/city, state, and federal. I’m fairly used to red tape actually; not much about it surprises me anymore. Getting bogged down in bureaucratic nonsense is frustrating but feels weirdly familiar, which is a little discomforting. Have I gotten too accustomed to the static non-pace of life as a public employee?  Going forward, can I wear the half-cloak of public service while also stirring the pot of privatized entrepreneurship? A tangled web indeed.

I hope the President and his team can get this embarrassment figured out soon.  Actually, I think he just needs a whole new team – there are a few guys in California who I think may be ready to step up.

Hope some of you are having better luck than me if you’re trying to enroll for a plan.  I’d say keep your fingers crossed for me, but I wouldn’t want you to develop arthritis as a result, which may or may not be paid for by your insurance plan.  Just some good mental mojo sent my way will suffice, thanks.

À la prochaine!

Ant Kristi

%d bloggers like this: