This Post Not Available for Rental

A trend I’ve seen recently in rental DVDs is blocking the special features, making them only available for purchase. This idea is bonkers, and I hope the powers that be realize it sooner rather than later. I can’t imagine anyone watching a rented movie and deciding to buy the DVD just so they can watch the special features, or at least not enough people to make a difference to the bottom line. To make the special features unavailable to renters seems spiteful. And in this age of streaming films, sometimes I call for the DVD specifically because I think the gag reel might be especially “good”. Eventually, I’m expecting Netflix to make deals with the film companies to include the special features in the streaming versions, as a sort of “second episode”.

My Next Great Idea: Returnable Shampoo Bottles

I’ve been thinking lately about water bottles (who isn’t?) and it led me to thinking about shampoo bottles. The average American surely goes through much fewer in a year than the evil store-bought water bottle, but we still must go through quite a few. So I got an idea. There could be a little return receptacle at the grocery store/pharmacy where consumers can place their empties while picking up their new bottle. When the distributor comes to refill the shelf, they take the empties back to the distribution center, and then they make their way back in bulk to the manufacturer. There they get washed and stuff, and then refilled. If the bottles now are not in a reusable state, they may need a redesign, or maybe they just need to be melted and reformed, I don’t know.

I’d like to start a pilot program with a smaller company – I was thinking Giovanni since I use their product – and see how it goes. It may be an idea that fails miserably, but it may be the start of something much bigger.

My Postal Solution

I recently read yet another article about the US Postal Service hemorrhaging money, and after I successfully blocked awful images out of my mind, I got to thinking. I have a soft spot for the Postal Service, and would really hate to see it go away or become privatized, and so I came up with an idea to keep it around. At the moment, the Service is asking Congress to approve ceasing Saturday delivery. I say cease all residential mail delivery. I got a postcard in the mail with an offer to rent a post office box. But shouldn’t a post office box be free, and delivery service be for a fee? Let us return to the days of picking up our mail at a post office, and let businesses pay to have their mail delivered to their premises. It could be charged on a monthly basis, by the pound. Businesses could include property management, i.e. apartment buildings and condos (sorting for individual residences would be the building’s problem). We wouldn’t need to expand the extant post offices, but could build centrally located, unmanned mail box centers if needed. I haven’t crunched any numbers, nor do I have the numbers to crunch, but I think it’s an idea worth considering.

Doing My Part to Wean the US Off of OPEC

As a lot of people who know me can testify, I have had a long-standing relationship with mint Chapstick. At least since 1992, I’ve been pretty much addicted to the stuff. Mint only (referred to as “classic mint” now, or sometimes “spearmint”). I do have a stand-by “regular” flavor in the pocket of my bath robe for emergencies, but mint has always been the staple. I’d always buy anywhere from six to a dozen at a time, and I’d go through them like some people go through boyfriends. (I’m not sure what that means.) Mint Chapstick is not the easiest to find, either. Target will usually have some in stock, but most of the stores within walking distance of me do not. So a couple weeks ago, I ran out of mint Chapstick, which is a wee bit surprising since I usually keep a stock of the stuff. I started using my Burt’s Bees Beeswax Lip Balm to hold me over until I had a chance to get to Target, and you know what? I think I’m a convert. It has a similar minty goodness that my Chapstick has, but with no petrolatum. The Burt’s Bees is pricier than the Chapstick, but I really feel like I don’t need to use as much. With Chapstick, I’m reapplying many times a day, but the Burt’s Bees gets like 1/2 or maybe even a 1/3 the applications. My lips just don’t dry out as soon. Some might think this obvious, but I denied it because I really loved my mint Chapstick. These are the 100% natural ingredients in my Burt’s Bees:

Beeswax, coconut oil, sunflower seed oil, peppermint oil, lanolin, tocopherol, rosemary leaf oil, soybean oil, and canola oil.

Because of the lanolin, I suppose it can’t be considered vegan, but otherwise, a very nice concoction. (I’m not vegan, so it’s not an issue for me.) I guess the tocopherol is Vitamin E.  Well, that’s that, it seems that while I haven’t given up chapstick, it’s very likely I’ve given up Chapstick. Take that, Oil Barons!

Pharmacy Adventure: Long Story Short

So yesterday I stop by my local Bartell to ask for a refill of my allergy medicine, telling them I’ll come back later to pick it up. I forget to pick it up last night so plan to pick it up on my way home tonight. In the meantime, this afternoon I entered my “authorization code” on my new insurer’s website so that I can avail of their mail-order pharmacy service, and then I fill out the little form to transfer my prescriptions for future ordering. I go to Bartell tonight to pick up my medicine only to find they already got my transfer request (it was like two hours prior!) and have canceled my prescription! Talk about efficiency. However, I don’t want to wait and see what happens with the online thing, so when they say they can re-fill it, I say “go ahead.”  Then – when I get my medicine, the charge is twice what I’m expecting, so I look at the pill bottle, and they’ve filled it for 90 days instead of my usual 30! I feel a little bamboozled, but at least I don’t have to go to the pharmacy again for a while. . .

Healthcare Plan for the Elective Uninsured

I’ve been trying to keep up with the whole Healthcare Reform hubbub. I read articles, argue with my uncle, attended a rally. Tonight I read about half of Obama’s prepared speech as published in the NY Times (I’ll read the other half later, I promise). I’m feeling a little better about things, but one thing that initially had me cringing was the notion of inflicting fines on citizens who opt not to purchase health insurance of any kind. To paraphrase a commenter at the Houston Chronicle website, ‘isn’t it my business if I choose to pay out of pocket?’ I chewed this over, thinking about why this would be a fine-able offense. And so I’ve come up with a healthcare plan for the Elective Uninsured in lieu of automatic fines.

The Elective Uninsured would be defined as individuals who can afford to have insurance either through an employer or the insurance exchange proposed in the new plan, but elect not to purchase it. It would not include those whose income makes it prohibitive to purchase insurance.

First, the Elective Uninsured would be registered in a national database that would be accessible to all healthcare facilities in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, US Marshall Islands, and any other islands with US in their names.

They would agree to pay any and all health services out of pocket. Emergency services would be required to be pre-paid in cash or by credit card. If the person arrives at an emergency facility unconscious, the facility is allowed to retrieve a credit card from their person or in the absence of a credit card, to access their banking information for pre-payment. The person will subsequently be billed for any emergency transportation which brought them to the facility.

Failure to pay for services or medications received will not be a legitimate reason for entering into bankruptcy protection. This would include default on credit cards where it can be shown the default was from medical services charged.

Minor children of parents who are Elective Uninsured will not be denied necessary treatment for lack of pre-payment. However, the parents will be billed for services and medications provided to their child. Failure to pay will result in garnishment of wages equally from both parents.  If the parents are married to each other and divorce prior to the bill being paid in full, they will continue to pay the debt equally, and this will not be negotiable in divorce proceedings.

If you are an Elective Uninsured at the qualifying age of Medicaid, you will not be able to collect benefits.

Anyway, it’s just an idea.