Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

Service of Please Pass the Caffeine: Performing in Front of Nappers

Monday, July 1st, 2024

I was at a wonderful concert last week in an intimate setting. The soloist played a clarinet accompanied by an accomplished pianist.

Near me was an ancient person who immediately fell asleep. We were in the second row, almost in front of the clarinet player. Surely, he saw Mr. Sleepy.

Because of the fellow’s advanced age, the musician couldn’t have been insulted though it is distracting to see someone snoozing while you play your heart out—or deliver a speech.

I once had a boss who regularly fell asleep during presentations. My colleagues and I wouldn’t look at one another as we might have begun to giggle. A friend whose boss was known to imbibe at lunch and sleep through afternoon pitches scheduled all such meetings in the morning.

I imagine there are plenty of parishioners who snooze during boring–or even fascinating–sermons.

And watching someone text while you speak or perform must be unnerving.

Have you been confronted by a somnolent audience? Did you have a colleague or boss with tendencies to catnap?

Service of Junk Fees Galore: Did You Want Wheels with That Car?

Monday, June 24th, 2024

This post about junk fees and transparent pricing is a cousin of the one I wrote recently, “Service of the More You Pay, the Less You Get—in Sneaky Ways,” and of another one I wrote in February, 2022, “Service of Irritating Add-On Charges.” In the former I wrote about expensive stationery and socks with cheap envelopes without glue and holes after a few months, respectively. In February I mention airline and digital news subscription surcharges as well as exorbitant charges for popcorn and drinks at movie houses.

Marisa Lagos wrote on npr.org: “In July, a new state law in California will require businesses to disclose all costs up front — a ban on so-called ‘junk fees’ on everything from hotel rooms, to concert tickets, to restaurant food.” California has always been ahead of the pack.

Here are my observations.

Isn’t the Interest from My Money Enough?

I have a savings account at a retail bank but no other account there. I was charged $10 for the clerk to cut me a check.

Include it With the Prayers, Please

I am having a mass said for a friend’s mother who is recovering from a terrible accident. I’ve ordered these from Catholic churches all over the place, mostly after someone has died, but for the first time, I had to pay extra for a mass [card to send my friend].

Charge Less for Seconds and Use a Bigger Glass

This example would have been a better fit for the February post. At a pricey Manhattan restaurant, at lunch, I was charged full price for each of four iced teas served in tiny glasses. The same week, also at lunch, at a Hoboken, N.J. restaurant, we were offered free second glasses of soda. The first glass was a nice size. Good for them!

Pass the Bread

Some restaurants no longer serve bread unless you ask for it and often, there’s a charge for what came with the meal in the past.

Two Tickets, Please, Drop or Reduce the Fee

When I take up an organization’s invitation to attend an event, and I sign up online, I resent being charged a juicy surprise fee when I’ve done all the work—chosen the seat, printed the e-ticket.

Fees and Taxes Sneak Up on You

Somehow a $1.49 bottle of water bought at a drugstore on a boiling hot day cost well over $2.00 due to the bottle fee and tax.

Have you been hit with charges that, like wheels on a car, should come with what you’ve bought?

Service of a Summer Saturday in New York

Monday, August 23rd, 2021

This door was open at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Saturday
Cosmetic Market wasn’t open even though the sign says it should be

On a short walk this Saturday I found one door open–that hasn’t always been lately–and one closed, that shouldn’t have been; an empty space where there had been a building last I looked; a Swiss chocolatier with enormous slabs of candy and an outdoor restaurant that looked like it had been transplanted to Manhattan from Europe decades ago.

I don’t blame Cosmetic Market, [photo top left], for being closed until noon on a summer Saturday. Who is in the city anyway? However it might have noted the revised schedule on the website.

I’ve tried to drop in to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the afternoon during the week and its doors have been locked. As with Cosmetic Market, there is no information on the website or posted outside the cathedral about the hours it is open. However I could enter when I passed by two days ago and a security guard told me it shuts weekdays around 1:40 pm but should increase hours after Labor Day.

Läderach chocolatier

There’s a huge amount of construction going on in the city yet it’s always a surprise to come upon a cavernous hole on a major artery, this time on Fifth Avenue and 46th Street [photo bottom, left].

I’ve passed branches of Läderach chocolatier before. The slabs of sweets always catch my eye. I wonder if anyone buys an entire block, how it would be packaged and if they’d ever finish it.

I love walking past Avra Estiatorio restaurant on East 48th Street. The lush landscaping on both the restaurant and curb sides make it one of the most appealing sidewalk eateries I’ve seen. Management pays equal attention to the trees and flowers next to the street in view of diners as they do to the immediate surround. The sidewalk in between is immaculate.

In August folks expect to see photos of ocean, lake, or mountain views–all wonderful. My city escapades are fun too.

What has caught your eye this summer as you took a stroll or a ride either near home or on vacation?

Avra Estiatorio restaurant
Fifth Avenue and 46th Street where a building used to be

Service of When What Calms You is Out of Reach

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

Open for contemplation.

Congregants at synagogues, mosques, temples and churches, passionate sports fans and shoppers, movie and concert goers, bar hoppers, exercisers, museum and restaurant enthusiasts and travelers are up a creek these days. There are no religious services or sports competitions, and favorite roosts  that calm, uplift, cheer and/or distract are closed: movie houses, gyms, museums, concert halls, stores, bars and restaurants.

Even hugs are out.

I was looking at a favorite cooking show on TV yesterday but can’t find the ingredients so is there any point?

What do you substitute and how do you maintain your equilibrium when your favorite distractions and sources of solace are on hiatus? What do you look forward to? What’s an anxious person to do?

AKC Museum of the Dog NYC

Service of Insurance: What it Pays For, Making Coverage Easier and When a Company Should Consider Ducking Coverage

Monday, October 28th, 2019

If I had back all the premiums I’ve paid for everything from renter’s and owner’s to car, life and health–even Social Security–insurance I’d be a wealthy woman as many would be. I admit that when I’ve needed it, I was grateful for the coverage.

For humanitarian reasons I question how insurance companies can get away with not covering a sick person for lifesaving medication and related legitimate health expenses. Drugs that aren’t on approved lists aren’t covered nor is unlimited home health care which is cheaper and in most cases far better than carting off a person to a nursing home. In this post I write about a pharmaceutical company that’s addressing how to help insurance companies pay for a pricey drug.

I also question whether an insurance company should have to pay an organization’s settlement and legal expenses in cases of abuse. The exception would be legal expenses. They should pay them if the accusations prove false.

Medical

Here’s a creative way that pharmaceutical company Novartis is helping insurance companies pay for Zolgensma, the most expensive drug in the world. I first read about it this summer in a Wall Street Journal [WSJ] article by Denise Roland, “Insurers Limit Access to $2 Million Drug.” One dose of the innovative gene therapy helps prevent a rare condition in young children from getting worse.

They are born without a gene that controls the muscles that allow them to sit up and later, stand on their own. When this article was written, insurance companies were reluctant to spring for the money to pay for the one injection because they weren’t sure it would work. It is meant to halt the progression of the disease, it doesn’t reverse or cure it. It is most effective when given in infancy, before symptoms appear.

Things have changed since summer. Recently Novartis made concessions to help patients acquire the drug. Denise Roland and  Carlo Martuscelli explained the company’s compromises in the WSJ article “Novartis Lauds Launch of World’s Most Expensive Drug.”

Novartis agreed to refund some of the cost to the insurance company if the drug didn’t work. It also offered to divide the cost evenly over five years [though few insurers have opted for this choice]. Sales of $160,000 in the first three months have exceeded analyst expectations. CEO Vas Narasimhan “said on a call with reporters that 99 percent of patients who were eligible for Zolgensma were receiving it, although some must go through an appeal process to do so.” Regardless, Narasimhan said patients “on average” received the drug within 30 days of requesting it.

Insuring Abuse

On the other hand I wonder how some insurance customers think that they should collect and why a company should pay them.

The title of a recent WSJ article by Nicole Friedman and Ian Lovett was: “Insurers Face Wave of Costly Child Sex-Abuse Claims–As 22 states move to ease victims’ pursuit of damages against alleged abusers, disputes over decades-old policies loom.” In New York, the Child Victims Act gives victims a year to report abuse with no time limits.

The reporters wrote: “Most of these institutions, such as churches or schools, are expected to try to use liability insurance to cover some of the cost of defending against these lawsuits and paying potential damages.” They continued ” The legal disputes underscore the complexity of litigating decades-old claims and the uncertainty about how much money will ultimately be available to compensate victims.” It could be $billions they estimated.

According to them insurance companies have already paid 20 to 80 percent of settlements for victims against churches. [The New York Archdiocese has been compensated in one or another way since 1954.]

As the statute of limitations kicked in, insurers calculated what their exposure would be. Now that it has been lifted for a year, those calculations are out the window and exposure to compensation has increased, but not without complications. “Many institutions and insurers don’t hold on to decades-old policy documents, and it can be difficult to track down details. Sometimes ‘insurance archaeologists’ are hired to hunt down evidence of old policies,” Friedman and Lovett reported.

They identified additional reasons to derail compensation: Did the policyholder know about the alleged abuse? “Liability insurance policies typically cover negligent acts but not intentional ones.” And should a claim cover one alleged abuser or each of his victims?

Do you agree that health insurers/Rx plans should cover costs for medicine, generic if necessary–even expensive experimental drugs?

What about an institution with a sexual predator among its employees?  Should court or settlement costs be eligible for insurance coverage if the person is proved guilty? Wouldn’t this be like my buying insurance to cover my legal and bond costs were I to be accused of robbing a bank?

Service of Last to Know

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

There’s a child passenger safety commercial featuring competitive parents in a playground who repeatedly say, “I know that,” after a string of kid-related factoids such as “did you know that friendly kids have more friends?” or “did you know that boys who play with dolls make better husbands?” The last mother to speak asks: “did you know that parents think that they are using the right car seat for their kids but they are not?” This the assembled men and women didn’t know.

There are times that I think I’ve discovered something that it turns out everyone else already knows. Here are three instances:

The last word

I recently heard about funeral homes that play a tape of the deceased talking to those assembled at the funeral. The tape was [obviously] made before the grim reaper arrived. The practice was new to me.

Check it out

I pay for groceries by credit card. I’d changed handbags and realized, at the grocery checkout, that I had none with me. On the belt was a large pile of groceries I’d selected so I paid by check–which I haven’t done in decades. The cashier handed me back my check, marked void all over it, with my receipt. Printed on the receipt was: “When you provide a check as payment, you authorize us to use information from your check to process a one-time Electronic Funds Transaction {EFT} or draft drawn from your account, or process the payment as a check transaction. You also authorize us to process credit adjustments, if applicable…….” This instant paperwork and getting back the check from the cashier was all new to me!

All welcome

I watched Beau Biden’s funeral on C-SPAN and was impressed when Rev. Leo J. O’Donovan, who gave the homily and officiated, [photo, right], told the assembly that they are all invited to approach the alter during communion. The emeritus president of Georgetown University advised those unable to receive communion [because they are not Catholic or didn’t want to partake], to cross their arms over their chests so that they would instead receive a blessing. Seems this welcome practice has been going on, especially at weddings and funerals, for 20 years. My friends knew about it. I’ve been to Catholic funerals and ceremonies in two decades yet it was new to me.

Fireworks

Small fireworks are now legal in New York State. I saw them for sale on Sunday at the A&P. The brother of a college boyfriend had blown off three fingers in a fireworks accident in high school so beyond sparklers, while I love watching them, going near them makes me nervous.

I sometimes ask myself, “Where have you been?” Do you? Have you recently “discovered” something everyone else already knows about?

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