Archive for April, 2010

Allcare Dental

I decided to call Allcare again to try and get things taken care of since 1) the voicemails I left 04-22 were never acknowledge by way of returning my call and 2) the email I sent never received a response.

So today, I left a voicemail for their billing department again.
I then called the offices, and the automated system directed me to a call-center. I explained the situation to the CSR and she said that I will have to call the office I went to, and gave me the number (the same number I had dialed). I told her that I already did, and it directed me to her. She then offered to transfer me to the office. I asked her if she was listening to me, because I told her the office directed me to the number I reached her at. She then offered to leave a message for the office. I asked her why she would even offer that when the office just directs me to the 800 number call center for billing issues? “Please hold while I transfer you.” I hung up.

There’s no actual office number for the site that lets you speak to a person. The local 216 number forwards to the 800 number. You don’t even speak to a person to schedule and appointment. Am I really going to have to go into the office personally and tell them to resubmit the information? I’m under the impression that once service is billed, it’s no longer in the local office’s hands, so I don’t see how that plan will help at all.

I called back and spoke to a generic services rep by hitting 0 repeatedly. She offered to transfer me to the billing number. I explained that I’d rather not since no one ever answers, nor do they return calls left in voicemail. She asked when I last called, and I told her last Thursday at 2 pm.

“Well there’s only 5 people in billing and they’re working as fast as they can.” They can’t do better than a week? How many bills are they screwing up? (Maybe if they didn’t do it on purpose, they wouldn’t have so many calls.)

I gave up and asked her to transfer me to Amy’s line again. I don’t want to keep bugging her about this since this should just be a simple issue, but I’m getting no response at all from billing. Her voicemail greeting told me she was on vacation and she’d be returning three days ago. Yeah, she got back Monday, supposedly. And was gone part of last week. She left an extension for someone else in her voicemail, but I’m not calling it. Why bother someone else when Amy is supposed to be back from vacation?

I really am getting sick of this bullshit.

Allcare Dental

Allcare dental sent me a bill claiming it’s over 90 days old(which it would be, since we haven’t been there since last July). However, everything (exam and cleaning for two adults, no fluoride) was covered by our insurance, and this is the first I’ve heard of us owing them anything.

I called their billing number. I’m immediately put into a queue to speak to the “next available billing representative” and given the option to press 0 to leave a message so that a rep will call back. Pressing 0 leads to a full mailbox with the option to hit 0 again to go back to the queue. Pressing 0 leads to the error “Invalid key.”

Hitting random extensions, I eventually reached Amy (x1135), patient relations manager. She told me to ignore the bill and she would make sure the information was resubmitted.

I wrote the above information on 18 March 2010.

On 19 April 2010, I received the same bill in the mail. I called the billing number and got the same result. On 21 April 2010 I called Amy  (who had previously assured me that I could contact her if there were any issues) and she has yet to return my messages. On 22 April 2010 I managed to leave a voicemail message for the billing representative queue. I sent an email to their patient relations contact address with not only all my contact information, but also the exact form necessary for them to fax to Metlife.

Then I wrote a complaint email on their survey page, which then took me to a page with the only text being “Thank you page”.  The following is what I told them on the survey:

Here is a list of things that caused me from my first time visiting Allcare to decide to NEVER RETURN.
-Appointment was for 2:00 pm, we weren’t seen until 4:15
-When appointment scheduled, it was specifically mentioned it was for cleaning. Hygienist was overbooked, no cleaning was done that day.
-Had to wait 2 weeks for new appointment because hygienist is only on site three days a week
-Got a second opinion and found Allcare dentist saw 6 cavities that weren’t there or weren’t an issue.
Here are a list of things that cause me to tell my friends, family, and coworkers to not go to Allcare ever.
-This was all 9 months ago and covered by insurance. Allcare failed to submit claims properly and we are now receiving bills
-Allcare failed to submit forms again when requested last month.
-Allcare not answering phone nor returning calls regarding this issue.

I’ll keep this updated as more information becomes available. I have the sinking suspicion Allcare supplies faulty information on purpose, considering the majority of their patients are seniors and might just pay what they’re told to.


Oh, you impressionists.

Concerning yourselves with how you paint rather than what!

An Essay for an Art History Class

William M. Harnett, Memento Mori—"To This Favour"

Memento Mori, “To This Favour,” 1879

Oil on canvas

William Michael Harnett
(American, born Ireland, 1848-1892)

The Latin Term memento mori describes a traditional subject in art that addresses mortality. In Harnett’s example, the extinguished candle, spent hourglass, and skull symbolize death. A quote from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, inscribed on the inside cover of a tattered book, reinforces the theme. It comes from the play’s famed graveyard scene, where Hamlet discovers a skull and grimly ponders his beloved Ophelia, ironically unaware that she is already dead. The “paint” in the quote not only refers to Ophelia’s make-up, but also wittily evokes the artifice of Harnett’s picture.

Mr. and Mrs. William H Marlatt Fund 1965.235

(The Cleveland Museum of Art)

While most still life paintings offer no narrative in their imagery, this does not mean there is no meaning to the piece. The meaning of this work by William Michael Harnett is offered directly in the title: Memento Mori, “To This Favour”. Even viewers not familiar with the Latin phrase memento mori can suss its meaning when viewing Harnett’s painting. An empty hourglass, a burned candled, and a skull are all icons of passing on, giving rise to feelings of one’s own mortality. As the phrase translated states, “Remember, you must die,” and so the viewer does. However, the meaning of this memento mori goes beyond that simple phrase.

“To This Favour” is a predominately dark piece, both visually and thematically, drawing the viewers attention to specific iconography with the touches of whiteness. The largest body of light color is the pages of the open books on the left. Harnett is known for his style of trompe l’oeil; in this instance he tricking the viewer’s eye into thinking one of the open books is motion. The upper of the two open books has three pages splayed in a position that would be impossible to capture in a still life painting if it were actually in motion. Each of these three pages curves in the exact manner one would expect it to do if it were falling under its own weight after being turned and left to fall to the opposite side of the book. Such is the trick, the tromp l’oeil, that the eye thinks the image so real that the page would fall at any moment. The book itself shows no meaning of death. The viewer cannot see the title nor read the text within it. Rather than be a symbol of the permanency of dying, the book, being half-open and in motion, may be a symbol of life: a life life half-over and passing quickly to the end.

The lower book is open as well, though its cover is torn from the binding. The aged, damaged book cover hangs over the edge of the table by a thread as if it, soon shall die. The inside cover is the closest object in the painting to the viewer, demanding one’s attention to the quote it bears. From Shakespeare’s Hamlet on the subject of death, the inscription reads: “Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come.” In the play, the paint is Ophelia’s make-up; in this piece, the paint is the oils used by Harnett. Both paints are applied with thoughts death, which may have prompted the artist to use this particular quote. As one may know, Ophelia is already dead at the time the line is spoken by Hamlet, further compounding on the theme of death in the painting.

The next largest collection of whiteness is the skull, quintessentially the most recognizable symbol of death. The skull, like the book, is aged and damaged. It lacks several teeth and is a dirty, off-white color. Unlike the book, the skull faces to the side. The skull looks to the right of the viewer, whereas the book’s cover opens to the viewer directly. This positioning by Harnett aids in drawing the eye to the quoted text for which the painting is titled. The skull rests atop yet another book, this one much thicker and less damaged than the first two. The spine shows it to be a collection of Shakespeare’s Tragedies, which, like the thoughts this painting is meant to provoke, is full of death, loss, and mourning.

Another obvious symbol of passing used by Harnett is the extinguished candle. Light entering the scene from the left side of the painting creates a reflection on the candlestick. A broken line of white draws the viewer beyond the darkness of the whole piece to the candle. On the table, it sits behind the skull-topped book. Behind the candlestick and skull is naught but a darkened archway; a light-less passage through which the used-up candle cannot guide the viewer. Even the off-painting light source cannot guide the viewer’s eyes to what lies within that hall. It creates a sense of anxiety and anticipation at the thought of the great beyond. One cannot see what is through the passage, just as one cannot know what is seen after death.

Behind the open books sits an empty hourglass, presumably the sand has run out to the bottom though it is not seen in the painting. It is yet another iconic reminder of one’s own mortality and the passage of time. It is tilted in a slightly unsettling way and is perhaps propped up by one of the other books behind the open pair. Like the open book before it, the hourglass appears to be at the cusp of motion. It appears ready to fall, or even already falling, in its tipped position. The only portion of the glass seen is that which reflects the light from the left. The lighting effect may be Harnett’s real reason for presenting the hourglass at an angle. The glass is so clean that the viewer can see to the stone wall beyond and, had the hourglass not been positioned as it is, the reflected light may have been too much or too little. Too little, and the hourglass would go unnoticed. Too much and it would detract from the whiteness of the book cover and detract from the intended focus.

The books surrounding the hourglass have no visible titles, though they appear to be at different stages of aging. One book, positioned at an angle on the left side of the Shakespeare tome, has a few pages that seem to be shifted and poking out of the rest. This can be read as a well-used book that is possibly near “death,” though not as near as the book with quote upon it is. A book lays flat to the left of the hourglass and the open books. It appears to be smooth and not at all damaged, though perhaps a bit dusty. The sixth and final book is perhaps in the same stage of life: its pages are neat and straight, but are yellowed from age.

The table upon which this memento mori still life is placed is a drab, olive-brown. It does not shine like the silk painted by other artists using oils, but it is as smooth. It seems to be very plain, which could be indicative of it being over-used and near its end along with the books and candle. The lack of luster in the cloth, as well as the rest of the objects, shows death to be very mundane and common. This fits with the sense of tragedy in Hamlet as no death in the play is glorious, no one died a martyr, and celebrated at another’s death.

Still life paintings are oft devoid of deep meaning. However, William M. Harnett’s Memento Mori, “To This Favor” bears a rich subtext of the commonality of aging and loss in addition to it’s obvious subject of death. Each object is positioned to relate to the other as aging, death, and anxiety all relate to each other. Harnett’s work reminds one of one’s own mortality as intended, but also reminds us that those we love will pass, too.

How I Feel

Worst. Essay. Ever.

Las Meninas, Diego Velasquez, 1656

Las Meninas, Diego Velasquez, 1656

Before reading this I feel it is important to understand the context under which it was written. This is an Art History class for non-art majors, focusing on the renaissance through cubism. This is for exam two. The class is two hours long, and the first portion of the test is fill-in-the-blank coupled with viewing of projected slides of various paintings the class had learned about. The essay portion allows the student to choose one of three topics and use whatever time is left of the two hours to write the essay. The test started at 6:15 PM and I left the classroom at 6:48 PM. I’m not certain how much of that time I was actually writing the essay, as I was writing between slides as well.

The prompt I chose for the essay was: “Valesquez’s Las Meninas 1656. Describe the form and content of the painting. What are the two subject matter. Describe the way the artist includes the viewer and how he leaves the meaning uncertain.”

And so, here is what I refereed to as my “worst essay ever” (though I suppose if I wrote “dog poop” a few times and turned that in, it’d be worse):

Las Meninas is a portrait of the princess of Spain, while implying to the viewer that they are the subject. As the handmaidens attend to the princess, she, the attending dwarves, and the artist acknowledge the viewer’s position is occupied. The mirror in the background shows that the king and queen are looking on, possibly the subjects of the painting-within-the-painting. Velasquez effectively places the viewer in the king and queen’s shoes. It is only momentarily, however, as a courtier in the back of the studio opens a door to prepare the way for the royal visitors.

All the above is subject to speculation, however, as the man in the back can be coming or going. As well, it is not clearly indicated if the royal pair are visiting or sitting for a portrait. The king’s dog also in the painting, but what he’s doing there (other than being prodded by a dwarf’s foot) is not certain. I personally read this painting as the king and queen having their portrait done and the princess is waiting (possibly impatiently as implied by the maidens fussing over her) for her turn to be included in the portrait.

There are two light sources in the painting. From the right, natural light enters and brightens the princess showing she is the true focus of the painting. Rather than being a simple group portrait, Velasquez included implied movement, making the painting a snapshot in time. The second light source is in the back, where a man looks on, interrupting the scene just as the light interrupts the dark background.

Bye Bye Dagwood

We got Dagwood a year ago. He was previously owned by a crazy cat hoarder that lost her home. All the cats were put up for adoption and he was lucky enough to be adopted by couple in North Royalton. They found that this adult cat was not compatible with their golden retriever and advertised his necessity to be re-homed on Craigslist. I responded and picked him up. He was an affectionate cat that loved hands; he would dig under the blankets to nuzzle your hand if he knew it was there.

James took him in for his checkup a few weeks ago and called me with some grave news: Dagwood had FeLV, and it was already causing lymphoma. We decided that we couldn’t afford to treat a cat for cancer again, and decided that we’d give him everything else until he was no more.

Dagwood eventually stopped eating much, then barely anything at all, and then he was just drinking. This morning he was hanging around his water dish, not bothering to sit up to drink. He was laying on his side, licking up whatever he could. We decided that it was time, and today at 5PM we took him to the vet and had him put down. He was 7 lbs in the end, when he’d been twice that or more a month ago.

Bye bye, Dagwood.

From Dagwood